March 20, 2006

Tsvangirai re-elected by MDC faction

A faction of Zimbabwe's divided opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has re-elected Morgan Tsvangirai as its president. Upon his re-election as leader of the anti-senate faction of the MDC, Tsvangirai called for "a sustained cold season of peaceful democratic resistance" to President Robert Mugabe's government. He has already made numerous similar calls before, including his call for a 'final push' of civil disobedience and protests that failed to materialise in 2003. The MDC split late in 2005 over Tsvangirai's decision to boycott the senate elections. A pro-senate faction led by his former deputy, Gibson Sibanda, refused to ignore the polls and fielded a number of candidates. Sibanda's faction has since held its own congress and elected a new leader, South African-based Arthur Mutumbara. However, it was obvious from the turnout at the congress attended by around 14.000 to 15.000 people that Tsvangirai still enjoyed the lion's share of support by the splintered party's members. However, this would count for nought if Tsvangirai failed to address "weaknesses" in his party's strategy for opposing ZANU-PF.

Despite the ruling ZANU-PF party's threats of a violent confrontation, the MDC has in the meantime also stressed its determination to go ahead with street protests over the government's failure to address the crumbling economy and mounting food shortages. ZANU-PF's secretary for Information and Publicity, Nathan Shamuyarira, had before warned that calls for civil disobedience by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai were irresponsible, and that the security forces would deal ruthlessly with any law-breakers. (Rts)

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