HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsTsvangirai must pass democratic test at congress

Tsvangirai must pass democratic test at congress

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MDC-T party will not strictly adhere to its constitution to elect a new leader at its congress scheduled for May this year.

This means party leader Morgan Tsvangirai will remain at the helm come May 30.

We understand that even though the issue of leadership renewal was debated at a recent MDC-T national council meeting, there was general agreement that no one should contest the president’s post at the congress.

The MDC-T dropped from its constitution a clause limiting the party president’s terms in office, thus extending Tsvangirai’s tenure to beyond 2011.

It removed clause 6.1.3, which said the president shall serve for a maximum of two five-year terms.

This amendment was not brought before the party’s last congress in 2006. But according to the MDC-T constitution, any amendment requires at least two-thirds of delegates present at the congress to vote for it.

In its resolutions recently, the MDC-T said “council waives strict compliance with the time limits provided in the constitution”.

There was no further elaboration on what this entailed, but read in context, this meant there will be no need to question Tsvangirai’s extended term of presidency after the May congress.

We are privy to the clauses of the party’s constitution as regards the positions of president; deputy president and secretary-general which stipulate that each incumbent would serve a maximum of two terms.

There is no doubt Tsvangirai is a popular figure. He’s also popular with the electorate, and can easily win an election against any candidate in the party and country.

As a result, it should follow that the MDC-T would divorce itself from how Zanu PF does its things, at least when it came to choosing its leaders.

Even if Tsvangirai can easily win the coming elections, there is need to have him go through the democratic process, so that he’s chosen by congress, to become the party’s candidate.

We believe Tsvangirai must be subjected to the same scrutiny as everybody else in the party.

If he’s a party candidate for the elections, we wonder why they are not officially presenting him to the electorate.

Despite Zanu PF knowing all too well that President Robert Mugabe stands little chance against Tsvangirai, they have started campaigning for him.

MDC-T should hit the ground running. What is the party waiting for? In fact, delaying declaring Tsvangirai as party candidate for the next election may be costly. This may also mean MDC-T is playing into the hands of Zanu PF.

Voters should distinguish a democratic MDC-T from Zanu PF which depends on President Mugabe
In particular party stalwarts should actually push for the right procedures to be followed.

We hope that stifling opposing views within “the party of excellence” will not divide it as the country drifts slowly towards national elections.

Why should “apostles of constitutionalism and disciples and doyens of democracy” stifle democratic space like this in their own democratic party?

We believe Tsvangirai does not need any protection from the party. Senior party officials must not stifle debate in their bid to portray him as one who needs their protection. We believe their acts are self- serving.

We do not want to believe that Tsvangirai ordered party officials not to challenge him at the congress.

But which party constitution will be used at the congress, the 1999 or 2006 one? The MDC-T must come clean on that one.

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