THE succession fights, if left unresolved may drive the MDC-T to a possible split, to the detriment of the strongest and long standing opposition political party in Zimbabwe.
By Lloyd Phiri
It was without doubt that there would be mixed reactions towards Nelson Chamisa’s ascendancy to power soon after the death of the long-standing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Some of the leadership termed the action a “coup de’tat”.
Tsvangirai left his party plunging into a succession dispute pitting the three deputy presidents against each other for the top post.
With Chamisa quickly rallying support in the national executive council soon after the death of Tsvangirai to appoint him the interim president, in the absence of the other two deputy presidents (Thokozani Khuphe and Elias Mudzuri) a confrontation was inevitable, questioning the legitimacy of Chamisa’s appointment as the acting president without the knowledge and approval of the other leaders.
With the elections around the corner, an MDC-T split would further tone down the opposition votes, as has happened previously with other prominent figures such as Tendai Biti, Arthur Mutambara, Welshman Ncube among others, because of power struggles.
A closer look at the constitution of the party, the deputy president automatically becomes the acting president for a period pending the extra-ordinary congress.
In this case the period is 12 months. However, this premise is rocked with confusion as there are three deputy presidents eying the top post, with Khupe arguing that she is the rightful leader because the official 2014, extra-ordinary congress elected her the deputy president while Chamisa and Mudzuri where appointed by Tsvangirai after the congress.
A brief cite of the MDC-T constitution would give illustration on how the matter should be handled:-
Death or resignation of office bearers
Section 9.20.1 In the event of the death or resignation of the president, the deputy president assumes the role of acting president, pending the holding of an extra-ordinary congress that shall be held to elect a new president which extra-ordinary congress to be held no later than a year from the death or resignation of the former president.
9.21.2 In the event of the death or resignation of the national chairperson, the secretary-general, the treasurer-general, the national organisation secretary the chairpersons of the women and youth assemblies, their deputies shall respectively hold office until the next congress.
Therefore, an extra-ordinary congress should be convened with urgency to put to bed all the squabbles that have become the order of the day in the party because the people are already feeling betrayed by the party they have their hopes on for so long due to the infighting, thuggery and violence witnessed at Tsvangirai’s burial.
While it is imperative for the constitution to be amended every time there is a development in the party. The amended document including the appointment of the other two deputy presidents seems to have circulated internally, if ever it was amended and produced to at least guide the party in this matter.
With the unfortunate death of Tsvangirai at the time the elections are drawing closer, the 12 months which Chamisa should be acting president covers the elections.
It would be a bad footing to go into elections, in such a hostile situation at home. The congress should be treated differently this time. It should be called early to decide who will lead.
Elections are crucial and a prominent leader with a large backing of the masses should be elected and there should be order and unity amongst the top leadership.
The people are confused as to who is the leader of the long-standing opposition political party at the moment since Khuphe and Chamisa both claim to be acting vice-presidents.
Hence, sanity should be restored back to the party in preparation for the coming elections.
The losers of the position should admit defeat and work with other in the party towards rebuilding the image of the party and honour Tsvangirai.