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Zimbabwe: Opposition Committee Meets Amidst Fears of Split in MDC Party


The national executive committee of Zimbabwe's main opposition party meets Saturday amidst ongoing confusion about the party's participation in upcoming elections and talk of a split in the party.

The national executive committee of the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition party, is scheduled to meet Saturday to deliberate over recent events, a senior member of the party told VOA.

On the agenda, the official who spoke on condition of anonimity, is party president Morgan Tsvangirai's rejection of a democratic vote. Mr. Tsvangirai over-ruled the decision by the party's national council to take part in the November 26 senatorial poll.

The national executive committee is, according to the official, the administrative arm of the party. The official dismissed speculation that a split is imminent in the opposition party saying differences of opinion should not be interpreted as a split.

Since Mr. Tsvangirais veto, the MDC has been involved in a very public row pitting Mr. Tsvangirai against five of the top

leadership of the MDC who believe party members should take part in the poll.

The second chamber, abolished more than a decade ago, was reintroduced through a recent constitutional amendment. The MDC opposed the re-introduction of the senate in parliament accusing President Robert Mugabe of creating positions for friends. Mr. Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF, has a two-thirds majority in parliament, which enables it to amend the constitution without support of the opposition.

Mr. Tsvangirai argues that a senate will not improve the lot of Zimbabweans who are reeling under the country's worst economic crisis. He also questions the wisdom of participating in a poll whose result he says is pre-determined. The opposition party rejected the results of the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary elections and the 2002 presidential elections citing massive fraud, violence and rigging.

Attempts to have the five pro-senate elections leaders and Mr. Tsvangirai meet to iron out their differences failed throughout this week. William Bango, Mr. Tsvangirais's spokesperson on Thursday told VOA that he was with Mr. Tsvangirai in Manicaland province on an anti-senate vote campaign. Referring to the senate elections he said the people were not interested in what he dismissed as a farce.

MDC Vice President Gibson Sibanda on Wednesday issued a statement accusing Mr. Tsvangirai of violating the party's constitution. The statement says even if the votes had been tied Mr. Tsvangirai does not have a casting vote.

MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi who is in the pro-senate poll camp said he was not told about the executive committee meeting but whatever it decides it has to report to the national council which he said is the party's supreme decision-making body.

There have been claims and counterclaims about who is or is not participating in the senatorial poll. For now it is difficult to know who is right until after the nomination court for the elections convenes Monday November 24.

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