Tsvangirai whips members into line
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday reportedly forced national council members to endorse Advocate Nelson Chamisa and Engineer Elias Mudzuri as party vice presidents lest they be purged ahead of the 2018 general elections.
Several senior party members from the standing committee had openly opposed Mr Tsvangirai’s appointments a fortnight ago resulting in the meeting held at his Highlands residence in Harare being aborted.
But in yesterday’s meeting, sources said national council members were forced to support the decision by Mr Tsvangirai or ruin their future in the party.
However, the party’s Matabeleland North, Bulawayo and South African provinces refused to be cowed and opposed the appointment arguing that the decision was meant to weaken current vice president Ms Thokozani Khupe.
“Most national council members were whipped into line in the run up to this meeting. They were threatened that if they opposed president Tsvangirai, they risked being purged during selection of party candidates ahead of the 2018 polls. That alone was enough to instil fear among members,” said a senior party member.
Another source said Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and South African provinces were quite vocal after they refused to budge.
“The three provinces were clear that the appointment was meant to weaken Ms Khupe whom in their view has been loyal to Mr Tsvangirai. But the three provinces were in the minority and as a result Mr Tsvangirai prevailed. To demonstrate that Mr Tsvangirai’s appointments was not in good faith, why did he make the announcement at his residence together with his wife Elizabeth,” said a senior member of the national executive who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals.
When contacted for comment, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu confirmed the endorsement of the appointment of Adv Chamisa and Eng Mudzuri as party vice presidents.
“The VPs were endorsed by the national council in our meeting. The matter surrounding this issue is now a closed chapter,” said Mr Gutu in his brief response.
Another source said party secretary general, Mr Douglas Mwonzora, presented a report to the national council in his capacity as chairperson of the party’s constitutional draft.
“Mr Mwonzora’s report basically was to say the new constitutional draft allowed the party to have more than one vice president. He, therefore, said the national council was sitting as congress to adopt the amendments which he said had been circulated to provinces. To our surprise, we have never seen the document containing the amendments that he said had circulated in provinces,” said another source.
“There was a lot of tension in today’s meeting. Party secretary general, Mr Douglas Mwonzora, who is the chairperson of constitutional draft and legal affairs, presented a report on constitutional amendments which contained the contentious issue of VPs. His report was to say constitutional provisions for more than one VP were there but had not yet been adopted. He, therefore, said today’s national council was sitting as congress for purposes of adopting the said amendments,” said another member of the standing committee.
Fears had been that yesterday’s meeting would have resulted in a split, barely a year after another one that saw former secretary general, Mr Tendai Biti and former deputy treasurer, Mr Elton Mangoma leaving.
The two have since parted ways and have formed their own parties respectively.