ACTING MDC-T leader Nelson Chamisa has summoned the opposition party’s main decision-making bodies – national executive and national council – for urgent meetings tomorrow to resolve the festering leadership wrangles and possibly anoint him as successor for the party’s ailing president, Morgan Tsvangirai.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA/OBEY MANAYITI
The resolution to convene the crisis meetings was made by the party’s standing committee during a meeting chaired by Chamisa yesterday.
The meeting was attended by 11 out of 15 standing committee members where co-vice-presidents Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe, organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe and national chairman Lovemore Moyo were the only absentees.
Article 6:4:2:6 of the opposition party’s constitution states that: “An emergency national council meeting may be convened on the basis of a petition signed by at least one-third of the members of the national council provided that at all material times only the president or any person specifically delegated in writing by him or her shall have the right at any time of convening a meeting of the national council.”
Party spokesperson Obert Gutu confirmed tomorrow’s crucial meetings.
“The national standing committee, chaired by acting president Advocate Nelson Chamisa, resolved that there be an extraordinary national executive committee meeting at 1000hrs on Thursday at Harvest House. This will be followed by the national council meeting, at midday to resolve and deal with all the issues to do with party cohesion and hygiene,” Gutu said.
A party insider said tomorrow’s meetings would likely to endorse Chamisa as Tsvangirai’s successor and possible MDC Alliance presidential candidate.
“The statement clearly show that there is a push to discredit the other vice-presidents ahead of the national executive and council meetings and paint Chamisa as the only person upholding the vision of Tsvangirai,” the source said.
Mudzuri, who had initially called for his own national standing committee meeting today, snubbed Chamisa’s standing committee meeting, insisting that he was still acting party president.
He later issued a Press statement where he hammered at Chamisa for allegedly harbouring “unbridled ambitions for power”.
“I will not have unbridled ambitions for power. Let me assure you that once the party is united and there is order and direction, everything will fall into place. When the time comes that there is a vacancy in the presidency, everyone who wishes will have the opportunity to present themselves to the people who will make their choice. I will respect that choice and lend all my support to him/her,” he said in a statement.
“The shenanigans of fast-tracking standing committee, national executive and national council meetings by the self-appointed Nelson Chamisa and those who want immediate power at all costs at the expense of unity, constitutionalism and due process and in the absence of a free and fair process to democratically make decisions cannot be tolerated or condoned by any right-thinking Zimbabwean.”
Khupe, who of late has been snubbing key party meetings since Tsvangirai was hospitalised, could not be reached for comment although she is also on record claiming to be the bona fide heir apparent.
This came amid manoeuvres by other top party officials, among them secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, to send all the party’s three warring deputy presidents for a meeting with Tsvangirai in South Africa to clear the air on who should lead the party in his absence.
Khupe, Chamisa and Mudzuri are locked in a nasty fight for control of the party amid reports that Tsvangirai’s condition had worsened, effectively ruling him out of the race for this year’s general elections.
“We are saddened about the discord in the cockpit especially the different claims by more than one person that they are acting president of the party. It has put the party into serious disrepute,” Mwonzora said.
“I have tried, as the secretary-general, to rein in the vice-presidents so that we come to the truth of what Tsvangirai said. We have recommended that all the three vice-presidents go to South Africa to see the president so that we come up with one clear position.
“We want them to go (to SA) as soon as possible because this is short-changing our members and it is unfair to the members of the MDC-T because what it means is that one of them is lying and that is a serious issue.
“Programmes have been disturbed by this embarrassing wrangle. We are calling our leaders to be guided by the common good and not individual ambitions.”
One of Tsvangirai’s sons, Richard, also waded into the MDC-T fights and called on warring party leaders to safeguard his father’s legacy and stop washing their dirty linen in public.
“My dad has done quite a lot in fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe. He has led the MDC for the past 18 years. We want the party that he has led for the past 18 years to safeguard his legacy during this time he is indisposed,” he said. “It is my wish and appeal as one of his family to keep his brand great even beyond his time and that at one point, his vision gets fulfilled.
“There are a lot of things happening right now in the party and he (Tsvangirai) cannot fight two wars at the same time. The warring parties must make peace and come together to achieve what they are supposed to achieve. My dad is getting better and he will be home soon.”
Richard’s sentiments were echoed by MDC-T youth leader Happymore Chidziva, who yesterday accused some sections of the party leadership of trying to undermine Tsvangirai’s legacy.
Chidziva accused Mudzuri of using the Tsvangirai family to capture and abuse their ailing leader.
“We are greatly concerned by the nefarious attempts by a clique within the party to subject the president and his family to a state of capture. Such actions are contrary to the nature of our party and of our values,” he said.