Former Mutare Mayor Brian James Statement on MDC leadership

I have worked actively for the MDC since early 2006 at both Provincial level and in Local Government. The enthusiasm for positive change was electric, exhilarating, filled with hope and frankly a humbling experience to part of.
Events have unfortunately changed, changed to such an extent that what we were fighting for, and indeed made sacrifices to achieve, we have actually enabled to fall through our fingers instead.
I support full now the Renewal concept within the MDC, but at this stage not necessarily any particular individual to take over the reigns. That ideally will be decided at a later date and by the majority of the MDC membership in a properly constituted congress.
It is important in this regard to read the statement issued to the press by the Secretary General, Tendai Biti, at the press conference after his National Council meeting held on Saturday the 26th April, 2014.
During my time in office as Mayor of Mutare, and following my suspension by Min. Chombo, (that was subsequently deemed " illegal and unconstitutional"), it became increasingly evident that not only were we fighting the ZANU PF officials in trying to combat corruption and reinstate the systems of good governance, but also agents within our very own party. This was a devastating realisation for me.
The MDC primary and confirmation processes prior to the July 31st 2013 General Election was yet another indicator to all that our party was not well. Manipulation and imposition of candidates, violence, the continued undermining of the Provincial leadership by members of the Standing Committee and their agents in the province, did nothing to ensure a unified front to compete in the general election itself. It appeared that the focus for many was already on the MDC 2016 congress and individuals' own political careers rather than the crucial national issue of change.
Probably the most distasteful event in my mind was the support given, by the national leadership, to the rebel councilors in Mutare, and other cities, after they had crossed the floor and voted with ZANU PF councilors to place themselves in positions of influence, which basically transferred control of the city from the MDC to ZANU PF. As I was later to discover, the 4 councilors in Mutare had colluded with the highest local government department within the party to rather accommodate ZANU PF than support their own party! Working WITH ZANU PF is inevitable, but working FOR them unacceptable! This was indeed a great betrayal.
The 2 National Council meetings convened to firstly suspend and subsequently expel Elton Mangoma were certainly not democratic or constitutional. Arbitrary suspensions of National Council members were used - and still are - to manipulate the voting structures, and Mangoma was given no chance to explain or defend himself in front of councilors who were expected to vote on his fate in an informed manner. The voting procedure itself left a lot to be desired.
Serious introspection of the Party is required and in my mind the simple request of a renewal process has been deliberately turned into a massive storm. Church mediation that had been initiated and was, I believe, looking promising, was spurned immediately after Mangoma's expulsion.
My support goes with those that will uphold the original MDC Party principles and values.

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