THE MDC-T national council yesterday put finality to the party’s leadership wrangles, when it endorsed Nelson Chamisa as substantive president and 2018 presidential candidate, but suspended party spokesperson Obert Gutu pending disciplinary action.
BY Everson Mushava/Obey Manayiti/Blessed Mhlanga
The opposition party’s highest decision-making body outside congress also gave vice-president Thokozani Khupe, national chairman Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe a seven-day ultimatum to end boycott of party meetings and programmes or face expulsion.
Party deputy national spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo was asked to take over as party spokesperson, while all ordinary members were gagged from communicating party business on social media.
Gutu, a week ago, declared that he was going to dissociate himself from the “violent and thuggery acts” in the MDC-T, amid reports that he was showing interest in Harare East constituency, defying an MDC Alliance agreement to reserve the seat for People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti.
Bhebhe refused to comment.
“How can I comment on something that happened when I was not there,’” he said.
Gutu said he had not seen the letter of suspension.
“They should have served me with the letter than use informal sources. I don’t even know the section of the law I was suspended on. This is a joke that is not funny. It vindicates what we have been saying that the party was hijacked by power-hungry people who can violate the constitution for the sake of power. For now, I will wait to receive the suspension letter and deal with it accordingly,” he said.
Mwonzora was not answering his phone, while Khupe was unreachable.
Addressing journalists after the national council meeting yesterday, national deputy chairman Morgen Komichi said 155 national council members unanimously endorsed Chamisa as the substantive party leader and presidential candidate until the elective congress in 2019.
“The national council resolved that in line with article 18 as read together with article 9.21.1 of the party constitution, the party through the national council has resolved that Honourable Advocate Nelson Chamisa is confirmed as the party’s substantive leader and the party’s presidential candidate for 2018,” Komichi said.
He said following the resolution by the national council, there was no need for an extraordinary congress to debate the party’s leadership structure, as demanded by Khupe and secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora.
Tsvangirai’s death two weeks ago created a leadership crisis with his three deputies, Chamisa, Khupe and Elias Mudzuri each claiming they were the rightful heir to the throne.
Khupe, Moyo and Bhebhe started boycotting party meetings last year, citing differences over the MDC Alliance and threats from MDC-T youths believed to be sympathetic to Tsvangirai.
The youths caused a scene at Tsvangirai’s burial in Buhera last Tuesday, where they allegedly charged towards Khupe, Mwonzora and Bhebhe forcing the trio to seek refuge in a hut which they later threatened to set ablaze.
Komichi said the party would investigate the skirmishes and bring culprits to book.
The same youths yesterday reportedly cordoned off party headquarters Harvest House, singing praise on Chamisa, while the national council was in a meeting.
Among the resolutions by the MDC-T national council was to reaffirm the party’s commitment to the MDC Alliance and rename the party headquarters in honour of the late founding leader, Tsvangirai.
This came as MDC Alliance principals announced yesterday that they would meet in Harare today to choose their presidential candidate, ahead of a crucial rally in Chinhoyi over the weekend.
The seven-party alliance was formed last year with Tsvangirai as its leader and presidential candidate. As Tsvangirai’s health deteriorated, he seconded Chamisa as acting MDC Alliance leader.
Alliance spokesperson, Welshman Ncube told NewsDay yesterday that they were likely to settle for Chamisa as their substantive leader and presidential candidate.
“There is general agreement that the candidate that we will be given by the MDC-T will be the presidential candidate for the alliance,” Ncube said.
“But the principals of the alliance will meet tomorrow (today), by midday we will have finalised that debate.”
Ncube said the Chinhoyi rally was meant to drum up support for the alliance, ahead of general elections expected not later than August this year.
“We will be going to Chinhoyi for an alliance rally which will be addressed by principals of the alliance. We are consolidating the position of the alternative government to ensure that we bring the country back to democracy, economic prosperity among other important socio-economic factors,” he said.
MDC-T youth chairperson, Happymore Chidziva, said the youth will be in full force to mobilise supporters to attend the Chinhoyi rally.
“We are aware that the need to liberate our generation is in our hands, we cannot fold our hands while our nation is being destroyed. It is with this in mind that we are mobilising ahead of the rally to ensure everyone attends and hears a message of hope. Tsvangirai left us with a vision and dream, we will achieve it through a peaceful and democratic ballot,” Chidziva said.