THE MDC-T yesterday said it was now geared for its congress to be held in the capital between October 31 and November 1, amid financial challenges stemming from mass defections that rocked the opposition party early this year over leadership change.
MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa yesterday confirmed the dates and venue.
“The party congresses will be held on October 31 and November 1 at the City Sports Centre in Harare,” Chamisa said.
The congress, originally set for 2016, had to be brought forward after former deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and secretary-general Tendai Biti launched a massive campaign to push for urgent leadership change following MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s third consecutive defeat by Zanu PF in last year’s harmonised elections.
The campaign reached a crescendo in February this year when Tsvangirai loyalists allegedly turned violent against the change campaign leaders, leading to the formation of a splinter group, MDC Renewal Team, fronted by Biti and Mangoma.
Preparations for the MDC-T congress had, however, been blighted by reports of severe financial challenges stemming from the split with the party’s traditional funders said to have withdrawn their cash, citing uncertainty.
Chamisa yesterday said they had secured adequate funding for the congress, despite donors’ withdrawal and government’s failure to release the MDC-T’s financial quota for this year from the Political Parties Finance Act.
“The party has always been funded by its members. Our members know how to sustain the struggle through service and sacrifice, therefore, the issue of budget has not been a major issue,” he added.
He said the women’s and youth wings’ congresses would be held simultaneously with that of the main wing to reduce costs.
Chamisa said Biti, Mangoma and their Renewal Team followers would not be part of this year’s MDC-T congress as they had severed ties with the party.
“We have not invited Zanu PF neither have we invited Biti and his oranges,” he said in reference to the MDC Renewal Team’s official orange colour.
The Renewal Team congress has been tentatively set for March next year.
Chamisa said the MDC-T congress would deal mainly with five issues that are meant to re-orient and restructure the party to deliver in the next general elections.
The party is currently finalising its district congresses before holding the provincial congresses that will lead to the national event at the end of October.
While there is no contest for the party presidency, all other positions are up for grabs with Tsvangirai’s lieutenants already reportedly engaged in fierce campaigns to land key posts.