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Infighting escalates in MDC Alliance

Infighting in the opposition MDC Alliance continues as attempts by Bulawayo Provincial Chairperson, James Sithole to lay misconduct charges on Provincial Organising Secretary, Helen Zviviri hit a brick wall, Saturday, after the Party’s Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) rejected his recommendation.

Sithole wrote a recommendation to charge and suspend Zviviri, popularly known as Tsepiso Mpofu, for alleged misconduct and that pending an appearance before the Disciplinary Committee she be placed on suspension from her position in the province.

According to his recommendation, Sithole said Zviriri gave an instruction for the cancellation of the Provincial Elections Directorate meeting with the provincial structures and thereby ‘gravely’ undermining the work of the party at a crucial time when MDC Alliance is mobilising for voter registration.

“Her conduct was deliberately calculated to undermine and derail the work of the party,” read Sithole’s recommendation.

However, party insiders speaking on condition of anonymity, for fear of being disciplined for speaking to the press, claimed Sithole was trying to suspend Zviviri, as moves to counter efforts to remove him as it is believed the chairperson is allegedly sympathetic to MDC-T leaders Douglas Mwonzora and Thokozani Khupe.

“Therefore Sithole attempted to suspend her. The charges he states arose from a dispute in the interpretation of Article 10 and 10.17 (National Elections Directorate) of the MDC Alliance Constitution, which Sithole allegedly used to chair and call for a meeting of the provincial elections directorate,” said party sources.

“The same article states that ‘there shall be a Directorate of National Elections.’ Nowhere does it state, even in the ‘general provisions applying to all party committees,’ at Article 10, that the provincial elections directorate will be modelled as the National Elections Directorate referred to in Article 10.17.”

The party insiders alleged that Sithole was deliberately misinterpreting the constitution so that he could assemble structures such as the National Executive Committee (NEC) members, three wings of PEC and three wings of the Constituency Coordinating Committees (CCC) outside PEC and without the assistance of the provincial organising secretary.

“Neither the provincial chairman nor provincial portfolio committees have that power. Only the chairman armed with a PEC resolution has that power. No portfolio committee, even if headed by the provincial chairman, has the power to summon NEC, PEC and CCC members. It’s ultra vires the constitution. PEC was therefore correct to reject a recommendation borne out of sheer ignorance,” said the sources.

Contacted for comment, Bulawayo MDC Alliance Provincial Spokesperson, Swithern Chirowodza, said Zviviri was not suspended.

“The letter recommending the suspension of leader Helen Zviviri was not approved by the MDC Alliance Provincial Executive Council that sat on May 15, 2021. It is regrettable that the ambitious letter found its way to social media. Tsepiso was not suspended,” he said.

Furthermore, party insiders added the statement by Sithole violates Annexure C (Disciplinary Code of Conduct and Regulations) 3.5.3 which states that “the Provincial Disciplinary Committee and the Provincial Executive shall have the power of laying any charges against any elected Member of Parliament, Mayor or Chairperson of a Local Authority provided that concerned office bearer is NOT a member of the National Council,” explained the party sources.

“Save for the Provincial Disciplinary Committee and Provincial Executive, Sithole cannot charge anyone let alone Zviviri who is a National Council member. The purported charge against Zviviri is therefore of no force and legal effect.”

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