MDC suspends Bhebhe, six youths

Thokozani Khupe
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HARARE – MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has suspended the party’s national organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, along with six members of the youth assembly pending full investigations into their alleged involvement in the violent skirmishes that targeted his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, recently.

Only two weeks ago, Tsvangirai cracked the whip by suspending deputy treasurer-general, Charlton Hwende and the party’s deputy spokesperson, Tabitha Khumalo, for being complicit in the intra-party clashes that broke out in Bulawayo.

Khumalo and Hwende, who are both members of the MDC standing committee, were suspended along with three youth assembly members.

Tsvangirai had been forced to act after party hoodlums suspected to have been unleashed from the MDC’s main Harare office assaulted his longest serving deputy, Khupe, Bhebhe and national chairperson Lovemore Moyo, accusing them of working against the former trade unionist by attempting to derail an MDC Alliance pact inked on August 5.

Khupe was attacked while she was attending an MDC meeting in Zimbabwe’s second largest city with other senior members of the party.

The attackers alleged that the meeting Khupe was addressing was not in sync with the party’s constitution and calendar of events and that it was designed to block the MDC Alliance meant to unseat Zanu PF in the 2018 general elections.

Tsvangirai has re-united with his former allies Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti as well as joining forces with other opposition parties, including Transform Zimbabwe, led by Jacob Ngarivhume, among others.

However, Khupe’s camp believes the MDC does not need alliances with other parties in Matabeleland regions where it has always fared well in elections.

Yesterday, Tsvangirai punished more of his officials for trying to put a wedge between him and Khupe, who deputises him in the party alongside Elias Mudzuri and Nelson Chamisa.

This follows an extraordinary session convened by his national executive council in Harare yesterday to deliberate on the violent clashes.

The meeting resolved, among other things, to suspend Bhebhe for making statements to the press that put the party into disrepute.

Bhebhe’s matter has also been referred to the national council for disciplinary action to commence in line with the party’s constitution.

Bhebhe had initially been named as one of the victims of the violence along with Khupe and Moyo, but now stands accused of not showing leadership qualities during the altercation with the youths in Bulawayo as well as “saying defamatory statements against Tsvangirai”.

He was suspended along with six youth assembly members, who include the wing’s deputy national youth chairperson, Shakespeare Mukoyi.

The suspended officials were cited by the MDC arbiter-general as being behind the violence when investigations were conducted.

In a statement, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, said the decision to suspend the officials was arrived at “after three hours of intense deliberations” and that they were suspended pending full investigations into their alleged complicity in the violence.

“It was resolved that the national organising secretary … Bhebhe be suspended forthwith following the probe team’s findings that he made statements to the press that put the party into disrepute,” the statement said.

“His matter has also been duly referred to the national council for disciplinary action to commence in line with the party constitution”.

Tamborinyoka said the meeting also resolved that all the youths who were involved remain suspended after their matter was referred to the disciplinary committee.

In a dramatic twist to the events, the extraordinary session lifted the suspension on Khumalo “following her exoneration from any involvement on the matter by the internal probe team”.

“It was also resolved that MDC deputy treasurer-general … Hwende remain suspended following the findings of the probe team that he made inflammatory statements before the disturbances.

“His matter has been referred to the national council for disciplinary action against him to commence in line with the party constitution,” it added.

Tamborinyoka said the MDC executive had restated the party’s “aversion” to violence and resolved that the party “will continue to take stern and decisive action on anyone implicated in violence”.

The latest crackdown comes amid reports that Tsvangirai is under pressure from international funders and allies in the civil society to root out bad apples from his party ahead of next year’s general elections. – Daily News