MDC-T will hold its congress by May 30 next year amid indications that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been at the helm of the party since its formation in 2000, is likely to retain his post.
The party’s national council met in Harare on Thursday and directed that the congress should go ahead.
“Council noted the provisions of Article 5.2.2. of the party’s constitution with regards to the holding of a congress and therefore directs that the party congress shall be held by the 30th of May 2011,” Tsvangirai announced after the meeting.
There has been speculation that Tsvangirai would be challenged for the party presidency by a clique within the party which allegedly argues that he should relinquish power after serving his two five-year terms, as per the constitution.
But Tsvangirai’s backers have argued that changing horses at such a crucial time would give leverage to Zanu PF while others have said the two-five year terms only count when the party gets into power, an argument which seems to be carrying the day.
Asked about the possibility of the MDC-T changing leaders, MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa said it was up to the congress to decide although he said none of the party’s leaders had served for two terms, since the party had been restructured following the 2005 split.
He also said the there was no limit to the number of years one could lead the party outside government, insisting that the two terms count when one was the President of the country.
“We are apostles of constitutionalism and disciples and doyens of democracy. The congress will decide on the leadership but I am not a seer or a prophet, so I cannot pre-empt what will happen,” he said.
“But there is nothing like the two-term limit. The two-term limit is in relation to the governance of the country. And besides, nobody in the leadership has served two terms because the first conference was in 2006. The constitution in operation had its life and gestation period in 2006.
“The two-term argument is coming from misguided people who have neither facts nor knowledge of the MDC.”
Chamisa said his party would go for the congress on a high note after defeating Zanu PF in the harmonised elections of 2008. He said the party’s ministers in the inclusive government had also done well while the party’s entry into government had resulted in the country’s socio-economic condition improving, although more still needed to be done.
“All this points to the fact that we have an able captain which is why the ship has not sunk. The ship is about to sail,” Chamisa said, expressing confidence that MDC-T would win elections which are being proposed to end the country’s political deadlock.
Chamisa said the congress would consolidate the momentum which the party has gained as well as consolidate and renew the party’s organs.