THE MDC-T has been rocked by fresh turmoil amid reports that some party hawks were manipulating public views on proposed constitutional changes to further their own interests while trimming the powers of the secretary-general.
The move is seen as aimed at blocking aspirants national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora from being part of the party’s top hierarchy.
The two were reportedly eyeing the all-powerful secretary-general’s position and were lobbying the opposition party structures to reject the proposal to trim the powers.
Party sources yesterday said a committee chaired by MDC-T national deputy chairman Morgen Komichi tasked with gathering views of the people was reportedly working on trimming the powers of the secretary-general to ensure candidates eyeing the post were left out of the presidium.
The post, if retained in its original state, would see either Chamisa or Mwonzora getting closer to the presidency and eventually position either of them to take over from MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Komichi was reportedly eyeing the second vice-president position that will see him as favourite to eventually take over the leadership of the party.
Officials said a meeting was held at the party’s Harvest House headquarters on Sunday where there were reports that moves were underway to trim the powers of the secretary-general and reduce it to a national secretary post – a subordinate in Tsvangirai’s office.
Komichi is said to have tabled a report which stated that the powers of the secretary-general — formerly held by expelled Tendai Biti — were exercised beyond those vested in the party constitution and propagated disunity, factionalism, anti-party smear campaigning, and allegedly looting of party resources by creating private companies. Komichi also accused the previous secretary-general’s office of disrespecting the national council, executive and the president.
“They are targeting the secretary-general’s post because most provinces are nominating Chamisa. They said that the challenges of the post were, among other things, too much control that created another centre of power,” an MDC-T official who declined to be named said.
Informed sources said the report had recommended that the powers of this office be trimmed and the title be changed to national secretary, the office and incumbent be subordinate to the president and shall under the supervision of the president convene and organise meetings.
“This was giving all powers to the president. The office of the secretary-general was to be located in the national executive, the national secretary to report to the president, major responsibilities are to oversee and be responsible for the judicious administration and management of party matters under instruction, supervision and authority of the president,” the officials said.
“Responsible for general party administration, accountable to the president, the national secretary shall work for the party full-time and shall not be a candidate in any national elections.”
But, the sources said the Komichi report was rejected as it was clear it was intended to serve interests of individuals.
“It’s targeting succession issues. Chamisa is seen as a threat to Komichi’s move and if he wins this one and wants to be the second vice-president, we will support [Elias] Mudzuri to challenge him. At the last executive meeting they told him [Komichi] point-blank that he manipulated the process when they were collecting people’s views and saying those who don’t agree are Biti’s people,” the official said.
“All provinces in Matabeleland are ready to walk away over the second VP thing. They view it as a way of ensuring that Ndebeles never rule. If we lose the fight we will nominate Mudzuri to challenge for VP.”
But Komichi said he had no personal interests in all he was doing as he was simply gathering the views of the people as mandated by the party leadership.
“I am chairman of the committee and I have no personal interests. We have data from the people and we want to compile it and that’s what we are doing now,” Komichi said.
“Whatever is doing rounds is speculation as no decision has been made. Whatever you are asking is still being debated and it’s not something concrete.”
A highly-placed source said Komichi’s report was rejected by the committee.
“That report was rejected, the committee said no to that report. What it said was not what came from the people, but was to serve personal interests of some individuals. The trimming of the secretary-general’s post and the second vice-president issue were rejected,” another official said.