Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
MDC-T is headed for implosion as senior party leaders and officials publicly clashed yesterday as they jostled to succeed ailing party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai who is reportedly fighting a losing battle with colo-rectal cancer in South Africa.
The party’s three vice presidents — Engineer Elias Mudzuri, Ms Thokozani Khupe and Advocate Nelson Chamisa —are angling to succeed Mr Tsvangirai. Nasty succession fights are now playing out in the public domain as tension continues to rise. Senior officials are issuing conflicting statements on who is acting leader of the party, a sign of lack of cohesion in the party’s communication department.
Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Mr Luke Tamborinyoka in an unverified statement claimed that Mr Chamisa was now the new acting president while the party’s national spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu insisted yesterday that Eng Mudzuri remained the acting president. Party supporters are now confused om who to take seriously between Mr Tamborinyoka and Mr Gutu.
In his statement issued on Wednesday that he restated yesterday, Mr Tamborinyoka said Adv Chamisa would act as president indefinitely until Mr Tsvangirai returned. Mr Gutu immediately silenced him and posted on his Twitter handle that he was authoritatively informed that Eng Mudzuri was still the acting president.
Further, there is no official document released so far buttressing Adv Chamisa’s appointment apart from Mr Tamborinyoka’s word of mouth, which was rebuffed by a letter circulating on social media believed to be from Mr Tsvangirai’s office.
The statement by Mr Tamborinyoka took the senior MDC-T leadership by surprise since Mr Tsvangirai delegated specific roles to his deputies before his departure to South Africa. Eng Mudzuri was appointed acting president while Adv Chamisa was made the MDC-Alliance principal – a coalition of small parties backing Mr Tsvangirai to challenge Zanu-PF in this year’s general elections.
Ms Khupe was put in charge of the party’s administrative business. As the MDC-T drama continued to unfold in the public domain, Mr Tamborinyoka addressed a press conference at Harvest House yesterday defending his statement that had caused ructions in the struggling opposition party.
In his address, Mr Tamborinyoka acknowledging that his statement had triggered an uproar in the opposition party. To give credence to his statement, Mr Tamborinyoka reminded people that he was Mr Tsvangirai’s official spokesperson for close to a decade and during that period, the two had shared a lot of classified information.
“I want to place it on record that I am the official spokesperson of the president and what I place on the market are his views as instructed by him personally. That position has not changed. (that Mr Chamisa was now the acting president),” he said.
Mr Tamborinyoka also dismissed a letter claiming that Mr Mudzuri was still the acting president as fake. The letter reads: “Acting President Mudzuri, I have been advised of communication being circulated within the party and public generally, regarding changes to MDC-T authority levels. This communication is false as I have made no such changes in the roles and responsibilities of the MDC-T Vice Presidents.
“This letter serves to confirm that the authority I vested in you to act as the President of the MDC-T party still stands and any other pronunciations are null, void and invalid.”
In an interview with the Herald, Mr Gutu dismissed Mr Tamborinyoka saying: “The legitimate Acting President of the MDC -T is Hon. Elias Mudzuri.”
Posting on his twitter handle Mr Gutu exuded confidence in his assertion saying: “I have just been authoritatively advised that Hon. Elias Mudzuri is still the Acting President of the MDC – T. The truth shall, as usual, set me free. I’m not captured. I always stick to principles. I hereby stand by and reiterate what I posted earlier on this platform. I have got absolutely nothing to fear.”
On Wednesday, Ms Khupe said: “Those of us sincerely concerned about the Zimbabwean voters and their MDC-T must impress upon the 2014 congressionally elected leadership at their level to take decisive corrective measures against the use of president @mrtsvangirai’s name to propagate unconstitutional-ism. . . We need a constitutionally ordered way of presenting ourselves to the voters in a clear and inspiring manner. It shall be well, stay blessed.”
Last week Eng Mudzuri and Adv Chamisa clashed at a rally in Chitungwiza with the latter refusing to play second fiddle to the former.