MDC-T’s succession battles have escalated, with distinct factions coalescing around ailing party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s three deputies.
National chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo and treasurer-general Mrs Theresa Makone are said to be eyeing the vice-presidency.
Sources revealed last week that one faction was rooting for deputy president Advocate Nelson Chamisa while two others were for Ms Thokozani Khupe and Engineer Elias Mudzuri.
The sources said the pro-Khupe camp, reportedly led by secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora, was trying to worm its way into Mr Tsvangirai’s family in order to secure the top party post for Ms Khupe.
It is believed the camp paid rentals for Mr Tsvangirai’s brother, Collins, and promised other relatives shots at parliamentary seats in the 2018 harmonised elections.
It is also accused of getting Collins and one Manasa Tsvangirai to issue a statement supposedly barring Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Mr Luke Tamborinyoka, from pronouncing himself on his boss’ health.
The Sunday Mail understands Mr Tsvangirai did not consent to that statement and has asked his confidantes to look into the matter.
Adv Chamisa, Ms Khupe, Mr Mwonzora and party spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu could not be reached for comment. Eng Mudzuri told this paper that he was ready to lead the party.
“You see, (succeeding Mr Tsvangirai) is not for me to say. It’s for the people of Zimbabwe to decide. I am just there to work for them. What the people want is what will happen. If they say so, then yes. I am not in a rush to do anything. Hapana zuva rinobuda rimwe risati ranyura (No sun rises before another one has set).”
On alleged factionalism, he said, “I don’t know; speak to the factionalists.”
Mr Tamborinyoka tried to downplay internal fighting.
“There is no succession issue to talk about here. What succession issue? Mr Tsvangirai is the president of the party and will remain so… I am the party’s presidential spokesperson, which means I am the president’s spokesman as well as the acting president’s spokesperson. Nothing has changed.”
Sources told The Sunday Mail of two distinct camps: one with Mr Mwonzora, Mrs Makone and Mr Gutu; and the other comprising heavyweights Adv Chamisa, and Messrs Moyo, Morgan Komichi (deputy national chair) and Murisi Zwizwai (secretary for elections).
A source in the MDC-T national executive said the pro-Khupe camp had been rattled by Mr Tsvangirai’s hint at leaving the reins in youthful hands and feared Adv Chamisa and deputy national organising secretary Mr Moses Chibaya were possible candidates for leadership.
Adv Chamisa, the source said, was the foremost threat as he was in the party’s founding “top six”.
“Tsvangirai’s hint has caused panic. Because he spoke about the younger generation, that certainly cannot be Mudzuri or Khupe. Some people feel that their political fortunes hinge on Morgan. They are saying even if he is on a drip, they are with him; hence the push.
“There is an attempt to rope in the family, too. Some relatives have been promised parliamentary seats and their rentals are being paid. Gutu, Makone and Mwonzora are behind this. These are the people who fought Morgan when he decided to have three deputies and to be part of an opposition alliance.
“They are bothered by the likes of Chamisa who are close to Morgan. Murisi, Komichi and Lovemore Moyo are also targets, but Lovemore only wants to be vice-president. The Makones are bitter because they are no longer close to Morgan ever since the Locadia debacle, and Theresa wants to be vice-president, too.
“These guys want Khupe because though they see her as their senior, they are convinced she is someone they can control. They have problems with Chamisa because he and Morgan are the two remaining members of the original MDC top six and see him as a direct threat.
“So, by engaging in public misinformation and other tactics, they are buying time and trying to muffle the succession debate because they know there’ll be an election and Chamisa is likely to be a front-runner.”
Another said: “It appears Mudzuri wants topmost leadership. However, he lacks real traction on the ground. He could, nevertheless, have his handful of followers. On the other hand, Khupe has shown ambition. She may not be in on the Mwonzora and company plot, but she, too, has shown that she would like to succeed Morgan.
“Morgan is now under pressure because of the uncertainty surrounding the party leadership. Last year, the party failed to hold its anniversary celebrations and presidential dinner. Rallies had to be cancelled throughout 2017 as he was not around due to illness.
“The national executive will likely convene an extraordinary congress, which, according to the MDC constitution, should elect a new leader should the incumbent fail to complete his/her term.”
In 2016 Mr Tsvangirai revealed he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.
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