HARARE – Nelson Chamisa was yesterday elected substantive leader of the MDC in a vote that will set the direction for the tension-plagued party looking to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa in mid-year elections.
The comes after the death of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on February 14, after a long battle with cancer, with his demise widening divisions in his party only months before elections.
As MDC leader, Chamisa, a 40-year-old who was taking the role of acting president following Tsvangirai’s death, will also become the party’s presidential candidate.
This was the resolution of almost a full-strength of the National Executive and the National Council, the party’s supreme decision-making organ between Congresses, that met at the party headquarters Harvest House in central Harare yesterday.
Chamisa beat Thokozani Khupe, 54, a former deputy prime minister, who did not attend yesterday’s vote, marking a pivotal moment for the MDC, which nearly came to power in 2008 under the late Tsvangirai’s leadership.
The party resolved to give seven days for engagement processes to take place with senior leaders Khupe, national chairperson Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary Abednigo Bhebhe after which the party has mandated the leadership to take the necessary action by operation of law.
Chamisa smiled and hugged other party officials as the results were read out.
Luke Tamborinyoka, the presidential spokesperson and director of communications, told reporters that Chamisa had been appointed substantive party leader and presidential candidate.
“After six hour meetings of the national executive and the national council, the party’s supreme decision-making organ between Congresses, the following resolutions were passed unanimously: 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… Chamisa is confirmed as the party’s substantive leader and the party’s presidential candidate for 2018,” Tamborinyoka said.
He said the party fully endorses the MDC Alliance, taking cognizance of the input from the party’s provincial leaderships.
“In the same vein, Council resolved that all party candidates in the 2018 election will participate under the MDC Alliance banner and that the party shall take all necessary steps to ensure that the name MDC-T is not abused,” he said.
“That the party be fully geared, prepared and ready for resoundingly winning the 2018 elections. In that regard, the party has mandated all structures to complete a popularity and merit based internal candidate selection process by 15 April 2018.”
The party also resolved that Harvest House be renamed Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House “in honour of our iconic leader for his service in entrenching democracy in the country.”
Tamborinyoka also said the party has resolved that party spokesperson Obert Gutu is suspended pending internal disciplinary processes and in the meantime deputy spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo becomes the acting party spokesperson.
“That the National Council notes with serious concern the violence that took place against senior officials in Buhera and applauded the immediate action taken by president … Chamisa to order an investigation into what happened with the aim of ensuring that stern action is taken against the culprits.
“The party has emphasized its zero tolerance for violence and appreciated the swift action by the president to deal with the Buhera incident and ensure that no stone is left unturned in the investigation of what exactly happened,” Tamborinyoka said.