BULAWAYO – There is seemingly no end in sight to the serious factional fighting that is devouring the MDC, with fresh cracks emerging in the Bulawayo provincial executive of the party — where one of the key figures has broken ranks with his regional comrades and is now punting Nelson Chamisa as his preferred candidate to succeed ailing former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Until now, Bulawayo province has been viewed as the power base of one of the MDC’s three vice presidents, Thokozani Khupe — who is the only elected senior figure among Tsvangirai’s deputies.
Khupe is often touted as the “Queen of Matabeleland” due to her perceived influence in the region.
But MDC Bulawayo spokesperson Felix Magalela Mafa Sibanda threw the cat among the pigeons yesterday when he declared that the province was “in fact” supporting Chamisa as its acting national president.
“The Bulawayo provincial executive and all its subordinate structures hereby, this day of February 10, 2018, affirms and confirms the appointment of Nelson Chamisa as the effective acting president of the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC) henceforth.
“We as the executive of the province are extremely excited . . . we therefore, applaud the president, Tsvangirai, for his star appointment. We therefore, pledge our unwavering support to vice president Chamisa and the entire MDC leadership, from branches to the national council,” Sibanda said.
However, regional provincial secretary Nomvula Mguni was quick to dismiss Sibanda’s statement saying it was not universally shared by the executive.
“It’s his (Sibanda) personal view. We never sat as a province to discuss such an issue. It’s clear he is supporting his person.
“I am the secretary of the province and am not aware of that, and what that means. It means he is speaking on his behalf, not on behalf of the province,” Mguni told the Daily News yesterday.
Writing on micro-blogging site Twitter, Khupe made it clear on Wednesday that she was the rightful heir to Tsvangirai.
“Three consecutive MDC congresses have elected yours truly as deputy president to president @mrtsvangirai and other officers primarily to avoid a leadership vacuum at such an eventuality and to shut out any threat that may be artificially created by those with hidden agendas,” she said in her tweet.
The MDC has been devoured by factional fights for some time now, which have intensified ever since Tsvangirai hinted that he was thinking of quitting active politics due to his failing health.
The former labour union leader has been in and out of South African hospitals for the treatment of colon cancer over the past few months.
But as his health has continued to worry his supporters and family, his senior officials in the MDC have been going at each other hammer and tongs, with different factions punting their preferred candidates to succeed the former PM.
Last week, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka told journalists in Harare that he was still in charge of Tsvangirai’s communications, and that he had indeed been instructed by the former PM in the inclusive government to communicate the appointment of Chamisa as acting president.
At the same time, a letter said to have been issued by Tsvangirai, claimed that Mudzuri was still the MDC’s acting president. But Tamborinyoka said it was a hoax.
“I have been advised of communication being circulated within the party and public generally, regarding changes to MDC authority levels. The communication is false as I have made no such changes in the roles and responsibilities of the MDC vice presidents.
“The letter serves to confirm that the authority I vested in you as president of the MDC party still stands and any other pronunciations are null and void and invalid,” Tsvangirai allegedly said in the letter that was copied to Chamisa, Khupe and Mudzuri.
Last Friday, Tsvangirai’s family waded into the factional fights — appearing on South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) confirming that Mudzuri had met Tsvangirai, prompting some people to allege that the family was taking sides in the MDC’s wars.
The family now also stands accused of ill-treating the former PM’s wife, Elizabeth — with close relatives of the MDC leader apparently accusing Elizabeth of backing Chamisa to succeed Tsvangirai.
All these sad developments are now said to have contributed to the rapid deterioration in recent days of the health of the former PM.