THE opposition MDC’s elective congress in Gweru last month failed to deal with the party’s thorny succession issue, setting the stage for potentially explosive power struggles in the event that its president Nelson Chamisa fails to complete his five-year term, party insiders claim.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Insiders said the matter of succession is sensitive and the thematic committee mandated with constitutional reforms deliberately left out the issue for fear of being accused of plotting Chamisa’s ouster.
“Currently, the party has three equal vice-presidents, all three were elected at congress and there is, therefore, not one of them more superior to the others,” an insider said.
“This leaves the party in a crisis if the president becomes incapacitated or for whatever reason fails to complete his term of office. The question that would need to be answered is: Of the three, who will act as president?” Chamisa, however, dismissed the allegations, saying the MDC constitution was amended at congress and will soon be crafted to deal with all the grey areas.
“The national council will sit on Wednesday and will finalise all the outstanding matters of congress. We will then avail the amended constitution of the party which will be comprehensive and will deal with those matters; it will be clear and concise,” he said.
Law lecturer Valentine Mutatu noted that in the absence of the amendments, it would be too early to say there is a succession crisis in the MDC.
“Given that they have three equal deputies to the president, there is need to have a clear statement on succession by the MDC in its amended constitution. If they don’t place that, then they set themselves for a political crisis in terms of their succession,” Mutatu said.
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The opposition party, which also moved to break with the past by resolving to have one vice-president from 2024 onwards, is currently balancing a fragile reunification pact with its erstwhile colleagues who quit during the late leader Morgan Tsvangirai and rejoined the movement in the run-up to last year’s polls. . It will continue with three vice-presidents to complete the integration of the MDC Alliance into the MDC. Jameson Timba, who was behind crafting the MDC Alliance constitution, confirmed that congress was a platform to ensure that Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party and Welshman Ncube’s MDC returned to the fold electively.
“We have completed the reunification of the MDC. The election of Ncube and Biti into the vice-presidency marks the end of the job we started as the MDC Alliance and takes us forward as the reunited MDC and it’s a critical stage for us,” Timba said.
The ruling Zanu PF party has had a similar succession crisis since the era of former President Robert Mugabe, where talk of succession was considered taboo.