MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett has abandoned the faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai following power struggles ignited by calls for leadership renewal.
Bennett, who lives in self -imposed exile in South Africa, is unlikely to seek re-election as treasurer-general when Tsvangirai's group holds its congress in October. A senior MDC-T official told Chronicle that should he decide to contest, he was unlikely to get any votes.
Bennett is among the first MDC-T members to call for leadership renewal in the party in the aftermath of last year's general polls that saw the formation losing to a resurgent Zanu-PF, even in some of its urban strongholds. He announced at some point that he had quit the party, but later retracted the statement.
Tsvangirai has brushed aside calls for him to step down and divisions over the matter reached a crescendo after Bennett's deputy Elton Mangoma wrote a letter to the former trade unionist accusing him of a number of misdemeanours.
Mangoma's subsequent suspension triggered a chain of events that ultimately saw him and party secretary-general Tendai Biti announcing that they had suspended Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai's faction responded by summarily firing Biti, Mangoma and others. It then appointed Tapiwa Mashakada and Theresa Makone to act in Biti and Mangoma's portifolios pending the October congress.
However, sources said since the fallout, Bennett is no longer active in the MDC-T.
MDC-T national executive member Charlton Hwende said that Bennett was contributing nothing to the party, adding that during their executive meetings, he has "never seen a cent in the financials being attributed to Roy Bennett's fundraising, not even a cent."
Hwende said that all the party's finances are now being handled at Harvest House, with no role for the treasurer-general.
He predicted that Bennett would lose at the forthcoming congress should he seek to contest as he is likely funding the party's renewal team led by Biti and Mangoma.
"From his past statements, it's clear that he either sympathises with the rebels or he is their godfather and funder. I can confirm that his post will among others up for grabs. I am not sure if he is going to stand again but should he decide to stand, he will have a tough time convincing a voter like me who voted for him last congress," said Hwende.
He denied that Mangoma was charged for calling for leadership renewal saying Tsvangirai was very clear that all members and structures were free to debate the issue.
He said although Bennett had participated in the debate, he was not sanctioned as his handling of the matter was different to what Mangoma had done.
"The national council only charged Mangoma for bringing the party into disrepute after he then took an internal debate to various radio stations and newspapers. If he had debated internally, he could still be a member of the MDC, that is why no action was taken on Bennett and even (Elias) Mudzuri who expressed similar sentiments," added Hwende.
In an separate interview, the spokesperson of the renewal team Jacob Mafume said he could not comment on the Bennett issue.
"We will allow Bennett to speak for himself, but what we know is that there are a lot of Zimbabweans, including Bennett who are yearning for a renewal, a renewal in the economy, a renewal in our education, a renewed Zimbabwean promise," said Mafume.
Bennett could not be reached for comment.