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Tendai Biti has laid into his former boss, MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, describing him as a thief who should be ashamed of demanding terminal perks from the Zanu-PF government.
The Renewal Team leader’s latest statements are seen as denting hopes of the opposition forming a successful coalition that would challenge Zanu-PF at the 2018 elections.
Biti’s team, which split from the MDC-T in early 2014, is expected to transform into a political party – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In an exclusive interview this week, Biti acknowledged the need for the opposition to form a political convergence, but virtually ruled out working with Tsvangirai.
“No single party can dislodge Zanu-PF and Mugabe, hence the need to establish a strong frontline of the opposition. We are prepared to work with principled and like-minded political movements, but there are some who are difficult to engage.
“Some of the leaders have no conscience or morality as they are busy womanising and demanding stipends from Zanu-PF, the devil. They are living in houses provided by Zanu-PF,” said Biti.
He said he had no personal feelings against Tsvangirai, saying “I don’t hate him. I pity him.” But he poured scorn on the MDC-T leader over his reported demands for terminal benefits for the time he worked as prime minister under the GNU.
“Some leaders believe in the politics of prosperity and looting of state resources, but we must change this. Where in the world does it say a prime minister must get terminal benefits for serving in that position?” added Biti.
“We don’t share the same values with MDC-T. Morgan Tsvangirai was a thief. He slept at the wheel during the GNU and his party is founded on violence. That is why we decided to part ways last year.”
Following the split, there were sharp disagreements over party property, with both sides resorting to grabbing assets and accusing each other of stealing money from the coffers.
Biti said his party would continue to pursue a coalition with other opposition formations, namely Zapu led by former Zanu-PF heavyweight, Dumiso Dabengwa, Mavambo headed by ex-politburo member Simba Makoni, the MDC led by Welshman Ncube and the National Constitutional Assembly headed by law professor, Lovemore Madhuku.
He is also seeking reunification with Ncube’s MDC after a false start and an agreement that the Renewal Team must first transform into a political party.
Biti said his party would usher in a new political dispensation that discouraged leaders who stayed in power for too long.
“There has to be a new narrative that goes beyond egocentric personalities, big cliques and politicians who are beyond their sell-by dates,” said Biti.
He said turbulence in Zanu-PF provided his party and the broader opposition with a chance to establish robust politics, saying they would tap into the older generation in former Zanu-PF members to blend it with the younger generation of politicians.
“We have come to realise the MDC, going back to 1999 when we launched the party, did not have a heritage. The party was composed mainly of younger generation cadres who had no direct link with the past. Our party understands the need for generational balance that includes pan-Africanism, the value of the war of liberation and democracy.
“The splits in Zanu-PF therefore present us with the opportunity to complete a generational equation that brings the past and present together in order to forge a successful future. There is no manual for democratisation and we must not be blamed for past mistakes,” said Biti.
He reiterated the Renewal Team’s position that his party would not participate in the 2018 elections if there are no meaningful electoral reforms, adding that Zimbabwe must be governed by a National Transitional Authority (NTA) in preparation for 2018.
The NTA would be an inclusive organ bringing together leaders from all sectors of society and be guided by the tenets of constitutionality, adherence to democratic electoral principles and the social contract that recognises the importance of citizen participation and partnerships.
“Without the NTA, Zanu-PF can consolidate its hold on power.
He admitted that his formation was experiencing severe financial problem.
“We are scratching the barrel. The 2013 elections brought this about as donors have pulled out and left us on our own,” he said.
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