Fireworks are expected at the MDC-T elective congress which begins in Bulawayo today (Thursday) amid reports of thickening plots, candidate horse-trading and betrayals.
Several aspirants had by last night reportedly chickened out of the race at the eleventh hour.
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesman, confirmed the final list of contestants and said a tough contest was expected.
He said the fact that most posts were up for grabs showed that the party was competitive, democratic and dynamic.
Among those who have thrown in the towel are Energy and Power Development minster Elton Mangoma and Sekai Holland, the co-minister in the Organ of National Healing and Reconciliation, leaving exiled Roy Bennett to retain the treasurer-general’s post uncontested.
Mangoma and Holland have instead, opted to slug it out for the less influential post of deputy treasurer general which another minister, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, is also eying.
Bennett joins party president Morgan Tsvangirai as the only unopposed office contenders.
There were indications several party heavyweights could fall by the wayside in the bruising battle for power in Zimbabwe’s biggest political party.
Deputy Prime Minister and MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe is battling to ward off spirited challenges from Norman Mabhena, a party national executive member, and Tabitha Khumalo, the deputy national spokesperson.
Another heavyweight who is battling for political life is national chairperson Lovemore Moyo, who is being challenged by firebrand trade unionist Lucia Matibenga.
Matibenga refused nomination for the women’s assembly chairperson opting to go for the powerful post currently held by the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Insiders said Matibenga’s decision has created bewilderment as the MDC-T attempts to achieve a delicate tribal and gender balance in its top echelons.
The fight for the women’s assembly chair is now between incumbent Theresa Makone and Kadoma MP Editor Matamisa after Evelyn Masaiti mysteriously pulled out of the race.
Masaiti on Tuesday claimed she was being threatened for pursuing the post. She did not pick up her mobile phone Wednesday.
Tendai Biti, party’s secretary- general, who appeared immune to challenges, has to do battle with Eliphas Mukonoweshuro.
The battle between Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri for the powerful post of organising secretary is now confirmed after both men accepted nominations Lawyers Douglas Mwonzora and Tongai Matutu will slug it out for the party spokesperson’s position.
Former Nkayi South MP Abednico Bhebhe and Thamsanqa Mahlangu are vying for the deputy organising secretary post. Little known Dennis Murira has chickened out.
The post of deputy chairperson will be contested by Morgan Komichi, Blessing Chebundo and Alexio Masundire. Senior party cadre Gift Chimanikire, the current deputy secretary-general, Tapiwa Mashakada, Bekithemba Mpofu and secretary for labour Paurina Mpariwa Gwanyanya will be in the trenches slugging it out for the post of deputy secretary- general.
Solomon Madzore, Amos Chibaya and Promise Mkwananzi are grappling for the youth assembly chairmanship.
Chamisa told NewsDay the bulk of the 6 000 delegates expected to attend the congress were already in Bulawayo and that there was maximum security.
“Security is over 100% and delegates are so excited that we have provided maximum security. All the elements that have been causing problems especially in the Bulawayo province have been flushed out of the party,” Chamisa said.
“That is why even Bulawayo managed peaceful elections yesterday (on Tuesday).”
Chamisa said the MDC-T had notified the police of the congress as required by the law. He said although most hotels were booked for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, they had managed to secure accommodation for the delegates.
“We expect the congress to come up with a new vision for the party and for Zimbabwe. We are working on a New Zimbabwe blueprint. We also seek to make necessary amendments to the constitution.”