BY BRENNA MATENDERE
THREE MDC top officials have thrown their hats into the ring to contest for the party’s provincial chairmanship that is up for grabs next month, when structures gather at the elective congress in Gweru.
These are Gweru mayor Josiah Makombe, Mberengwa businessman Davison Shoko and the current deputy chairperson Cleopas Shiri, who is also deputy mayor for Gweru. Francisco Masendeke, the current chairperson for Midlands South will not seek another term.
MDC Midlands South youth chairperson and Chiwundura MP Livingstone Chimina, who had expressed interest to control the province’s main wing has since backed down, leaving the race open for the trio.
“I have backed down and I will no longer contest for the position of chairman of the province. The youths felt that I would be effective as treasurer for the province. So I am going to stand for the treasurer’s post. I have a lot of work to do as an MP, so I felt I will not serve the party fully if I again get the post of chair for the province,” Chimina said.
The youthful legislator said he was now backing Makombe.
Shiri, a trade unionist and former civic society leader, confirmed that he will be vying for the top party position in the province.
“I am one of the sons of the party who joined the movement during its early days under the guidance of our icon the late president [Morgan] Tsvangirai. I have also been in the trenches as deputy chair of the province, so I feel I have the bundle of experience and energy to lead,” he said.
Makombe, who is also the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe president, confirmed his interest in the post.
“I have served the party well since its early days and I have been treasurer for the main province’s structure for the past term. I feel it is time I lead the province, because I have gained what it takes. If elected, my first priority will be to ensure the party makes inroads into the constituencies controlled by Zanu PF, because in Midlands we have very few MPs from MDC,” he said.
Shoko was unreachable for comment, but his backers indicated that he was the favourite to land the post due to the huge numbers of rural voters in the MDC structures.
“In Midlands South, we only have Gweru as an urban district that is likely to back candidates from the town, but Shoko has the backing of most of the folks in the rural districts such as Mberengwa where he comes from, Chirumanzu, Shurugwi and Vungu, among others,” said a source from his camp.
MDC merged Midlands South and North provinces and a power-sharing deal was struck a fortnight ago.
Midlands South will provide the chairperson, treasurer and spokesperson for the main provincial executive, while the organising secretary, provincial secretary and secretary for elections will come from Midlands North.
Midlands North will also provide youth assembly chairperson, leader for the women’s assembly wing and treasurer and spokespersons for the two assemblies. Midlands South will provide youth and women’s assembly organising secretaries, provincial secretaries as well as secretaries for elections.