Mudzuri booted out

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Former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri — who had held powerful positions in the MDC-T since its inception in 1999 — is now an ordinary card-carrying party member.

Mudzuri was dealt a thorough hiding by charismatic and popular former information secretary Nelson Chamisa, who walloped him by 2 611 to 707 votes to land the party’s national organising secretary job.

A team aligned to MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary-general Tendai Biti swept to power at the party’s third congress which ended in Bulawayo Sunday.

Tsvangirai and Biti, who, according to sources, lead different factions, had a marriage of convenience at the congress with the Biti camp supporting Tsvangirai loyalists such as Thokozani Khupe and Lovemore Moyo, who were re-elected as vice-president and national chairman, respectively.

All the candidates, who were on the “Team Yamudhara” list, romped to victory with the exception of Douglas Mwonzora, who won the battle of the lawyers against Tongai Matutu to land the party spokesman position, and Morgan Komichi, who was elected deputy national chairman ahead of Alexio Musundire and Blessing Chebundo.

According to party sources, Team Yamudhara referred to a list of Tsvangirai’s preferred candidates, but people close to the party leader denied the claim saying he (Tsvangirai) knew nothing about it.

They said a person vying for one of the positions had crafted the list to endear himself with the delegates by creating an impression that he had Tsvangirai’s backing.

Khupe garnered the highest number of votes, with 3 047 people casting ballots for her while her rivals Norman Mabhena and Thabitha Khumalo had 347 and 99 votes respectively.

Khumalo broke the congress record as the party’s least popular leader after she received the smallest number of votes.

Moyo brushed aside a challenge from former trade unionist Lucia Matibenga by 3 040 votes to 566.

Biti was re-elected secretary-general after garnering 2 850 votes compared to Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro’s 764. Mukonoweshuro is Tsvangirai’s close advisor.

Mwonzora rose from the setback of being shunned by his own province, Manicaland, to claim the post of party spokesperson, garnering 2 351 votes against Matutu’s 1 115 votes.

The Manicaland provincial leadership had nominated Matutu for the position ahead of their kindred Mwonzora.

Komichi took the position of deputy national chairman with 1 704 votes, while Musundire got 535 and Chebundo 460 votes.

There were 1 000 spoilt ballots. Party delegates were required to write the names of the candidate of their choice.

Abednico Bhebhe, who jumped ship from the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, claimed the deputy national organising secretary’s position ahead of former youth chairman Thamsanqa Mahlangu, who had the support of the youth wing.

Bhebhe polled 1 993 votes against Mahlangu’s 1 321, making theirs the closest contest of the congress.

The deputy treasurer-general’s post went to Elton Mangoma, who got 2 484 votes.

His rivals ministers Sekai Holland and Samuel Sipepa Nkomo managed 757 and 373 votes, respectively.

The results were announced by National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku, whose organisation conducted the election with the assistance of Bulawayo lawyer Kucaca Phulu.

“The results were accepted by all candidates and all election agents . . . Anyone who will say anything contrary after this, does not have the interest of not only the MDC-T, but Zimbabwe, at heart,” said Madhuku.

Insiders revealed that most of the positions at the grassroots went to the MDC-T faction controlled by Biti.

They also said the Biti faction had supported people aligned to Tsvangirai because they perceived them as not being a threat to their ambitions.