Jostling for positions in the MDC-T ahead of an elective congress in May this year is heating up with insiders bemoaning lack of democratic space in the party and claiming that they were being shut out.
MDC-T will hold its congress by May 30 amid indications that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been at the helm of the party since its formation in 1999, will retain his post.
Tsvangirai’s backers have argued that a change of guard at such a crucial time would give leverage to Zanu PF while others have said the two five-year terms only begin when the party assumes power.
Insiders told NewsDay that factions in the party were positioning themselves ahead of the congress, with the most interesting battle likely to be between party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa and former Energy minister Elias Mudzuri who are both vying for the powerful position of organising secretary.
Mudzuri seems to have fallen out of favour with Tsvangirai and was dropped in a mini Cabinet reshuffle late last year.
The ascendancy of Chamisa, sources said, would create a vacancy for the party spokesperson’s position, which is reportedly being eyed by Senator Obert Gutu and Masvingo MP Tongai Mathuthu.
Contacted for comment on Monday, Chamisa denied there was jockeying for positions within the party.
“There is nothing of that sort as the nomination process is yet to begin,” said Chamisa.
“There is a template that has been circulated to everybody on the procedures that have to be followed regarding that process.”
But sources insisted the jostling was happening “openly”.
One of our sources said party chairperson Lovemore Moyo was likely to go unchallenged for the post while former women’s league boss, Lucia Matibenga, was headed to take up the vice national chairperson’s post.
Prosper Mutseyami is expected to vie for the deputy organising secretary post currently held by Morgan Komichi.
According to sources, party secretary-general Tendai Biti is set to retain his position, so would his deputy Tapiwa Mashakada.
However, tussling and use of unorthodox means to campaign has taken centre stage with MDC-T officials accusing Senator Morgan Femai, who is Harare chairman, of campaigning in bad faith.
Femai is said to have called a meeting of women from all the districts on January 6 and instructed them not to hold congress elections in branches and districts.
“Infact, he called for Operation Gara Pauri Ipapo (stay where you are), meaning that the party is not allowing for democracy, where those in positions can be challenged,” a source said.
“On January 10, all main wing executive committee members were summoned to Harvest House and again told the same thing. We fear we are doing things the Zanu PF way. The message that we got is that there is no keenness to replace deadwood, but the leadership is happy with gap filling.”