The party’s Bulawayo provincial structures on Monday held a meeting to give members feedback on the party’s national council meeting held in Harare last Friday where the party upheld its congress resolution to boycott by-elections in 16 constituencies, 14 of them left vacant following the expulsion of 21 former MDC-T MPs from Parliament.
The other two, Hurungwe West and Headlands fell vacant after Zanu-PF expelled Temba Mliswa and Didymus Mutasa. Five of the 16 by-elections will be held in Bulawayo.
At the Bulawayo meeting members protested the party stance arguing that by opting not to take part in the polls, MDC-T which has had a stranglehold on the province since its formation in 1999, was “donating” the seats to Zanu-PF.
MDC-T swept all seats in Bulawayo in the 2013 elections.
The members also protested the attacks on MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe who wept uncontrollably at Friday’s meeting after receiving a barrage of insults from protesters who were not happy with her push for the party to contest in the June 10 by-elections.
Sources within the party said, the meeting chaired by provincial organising secretary James Sithole in the absence of acting chairperson Nomvula Mguni demanded that Tsvangirai comes to the province and explain the position himself.
“The members weren’t happy that the party was literally giving up the seats to Zanu-PF. They accused the provincial leadership of failing to communicate their wishes to the party’s national executive for the party to take part in the polls,” said a member who attended the meeting.
“They also protested the savage attacks on Khupe by members from Harare demanding that the provincial leadership immediately contacts Tsvangirai to come down to Bulawayo to justify the stance to the province. The provincial leadership immediately contacted Tsvangirai who agreed to come down to Bulawayo on Sunday to address the matter.”
Sources said the provincial leadership was accused of lacking spine to stick to their resolution to take part in the by-elections and allowing the Harare members to ride roughshod over them.
“They said Zanu-PF shouldn’t be allowed to win seats in Bulawayo with some making subtle threats on going it alone if the party insists on its position. Some said the party was actually doing Zanu-PF a huge favour by not participating,” the source added
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai on his Sunday visit is also expected to preside over the election of a new provincial chairperson after Deputy Bulawayo Mayor Gift Banda was barred from occupying the position by the courts.
Said the source: “There’ll be a mini vote of some sort, whether people back Gift Banda or a new chairperson is appointed. So Tsvangirai will be addressing these two issues when he comes on Sunday.”
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Mandla Sibanda yesterday confirmed Tsvangirai’s visit but denied that he was coming to address the boycott issue.
He said Tsvangirai had cut short his three day visit to Bulawayo last month following the outbreak of violence at the party’s Harvest House headquarters and had to return to Harare early.