THE heat is on in the MDC where fearful bigwigs have forged alliances with their would-be rivals for posts at the party’s looming congress which could usher in a new breed of politicians in the country’s largest opposition party.
Aware that nothing is guaranteed in politics, the bigwigs seeking to retain their positions or snatch “safe posts” are said to be reviewing their interests — which have seen pacts being made ahead of the congress in May.
This comes as the intense jostling for positions within the main opposition party, is escalating — with chaos marring the 20-year-old political outfit’s ongoing restructuring exercise.
The eagerly-anticipated congress, where a new party leadership will be chosen — including the substantive successor to the MDC’s revered founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, who died early last year after losing his valiant battle against cancer of the colon — will be held from May 24 to 26.
The party’s charismatic interim leader, Nelson Chamisa — who narrowly lost to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in last year’s historic elections — could face competition from either Elias Mudzuri or respected secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora at the gathering.
The Daily News on Sunday can report that re-alignments and “marriages of convenience” between senior party officials and new blood are being formed ahead of the May gathering.
The re-alignments and pacts are also reportedly informed by whether or not the bigwigs’ supporters landed influential positions in the lower structures of the party since they form the electoral college at the congress.
“The changes are a result of alliances being forged among aspiring candidates after considering their chances.
“The most important thing is that at the top of the party, most of these guys want Chamisa to remain president, so they tend to agree on the best candidate for a certain position in return for support for the other for a different post,
“People from the same camp are avoiding contesting each other as it leads to vote splitting which could benefit a rival camp, so alliances have to be formed on the basis of slates,” a source familiar with the goings-on in the MDC said.
MDC organising secretary Amos Chibaya who is leading the restructuring exercise, said he was keen on retaining his position adding that “it is for the people to decide but I am happy with my current position.”
While most of the officials cited a party-imposed “gag” on the congress, firebrand lawyer and Zengeza West legislator Job “Wiwa” Sikhala told the Daily News on Sunday that he was shifting interests to elsewhere.
Initially he had wanted to contest for the national spokesperson’s position but decided to go for a higher position — leaving incumbent Jacob Mafume and Tsvangirai’s former spin doctor Luke Tamborinyoka — to square off.
“I have decided to go for the position of deputy national chairperson after a careful consideration of where I think I can best serve the party.
“The position deals with disciplinary issues and as a lawyer, I think I will dispense disciplinary issues with aplomb,” Sikhala said.
He is likely to slug it with outgoing youth leader Happymore Chidziva and Manicaland provincial chairman David Chimhini who have also expressed their desires to land the same post.
Current MDC national chairperson Thabitha Khumalo could retain her position without a challenge.
Powerful Women’s Assembly boss, Lynnet Karenyi-Kore, who is hotly tipped to challenge for a post in the presidium, is said to be agonising over leaving the post, to have a tilt on the vice presidency.
Former Cabinet minister in the short-lived government of national unity, Paurina Mpariwa and Lillian Timveos — are early front runners to replace Karenyi-Kore — once she “makes up her mind” to challenge for one of the VP posts.
MDC treasurer-general Theresa Makone is said to be mulling retiring from active politics, paving way for bigwigs “ looking for safe seats” and “chancers” to eye the position.
Outgoing deputy treasurer general Chalton Hwende, who initially wanted to replace Mwonzora as secretary-general is said to now want the position of treasurer general, according to sources close to him.
In Bulawayo Province, Gift Banda, who was until recently tipped to become the chairperson for the metropolitan region, now wants to contest for the post of deputy treasurer general, which was held by Hwende.
Former student leader Makomborero Haruzivishe, who initially wanted to the be youth information tsar, is now said to be going for the chairperson’s post where outgoing secretary-general Lovemore Chinoputsa and Tafara Mabvuku MP, James Chidhakwa, are eyeing.
Also another former student leader Gift Ostalos Siziba, who was initially said to have wanted to contest Chinoputsa and others for the chairperson’s post, has been tipped for the secretary general’s post.