THE MDC-T is now racing against time to resolve the leadership crisis that is bedevilling the opposition party, amid fears that there might be some members who could resort to violence in the fight to succeed ailing party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Analysts have, however, warned that any attempts at resorting to violence would prove disastrous for the party.
Tsvangirai’s two deputies, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri are both claiming to be acting presidents and a showdown between the two is expected during party programmes this week.
There was drama last week as the two laid claim to the acting chair after presidential spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka issued a statement to the effect that Chamisa was the bona fide acting leader.
This was immediately disputed by Mudzuri who was in South Africa last week where he appeared on television outside the hospital where Tsvangirai is receiving treatment for cancer. He claimed to have met with and talked to Tsvangirai in the hospital and that it was the MDC-T leader who had invited him for a briefing as his appointed acting president. Tsvangirai’s children confirmed the meeting saying Mudzuri had indeed “engaged” with Tsvangirai.
However, Chamisa stuck to his guns in an interview with The Standard saying he was the acting president and that he would be convening meetings of the party’s top leaders this week.
The confusion, according to analysts, will be the biggest undoing of the opposition at this year’s harmonised elections.
Chamisa insisted Tsvangirai communicated through Tamborinyoka that he was now acting president.
“I want to thank vice-president Mudzuri who has been acting before I was assigned this important task,” he said.
“We are a disciplined democratic organisation governed by procedures and rules as espoused in our constitution and party statutes and that is what guides us. Just to clear the air, I am convening a meeting that is going to be held in the next few days to make sure that the organisation is on course.”
But Mudzuri said he would not be deterred.
“I am only acting and I am doing what president Tsvangirai asked me to do. If they [party youths] want to block me [from entering Harvest House the party headquarters] I don’t know what they are doing,” he said.
“They are blocking Tsvangirai’s wish and we will cross that bridge when we get there. If they say Tsvangirai chete chete [only] and want to block me are they still talking about Tsvangirai?”
On the other hand, Tamborinyoka maintained his stance that what he communicated still stood.
“What I said stands. That is the position given to me by president Tsvangirai. I have been his spokesperson for the past 10 years and he has trusted me to be his official mouth piece,” he said.
Political analyst Dewa Mavhinga said if not handled properly, the impasse might signal the end of MDC-T.
“If not handled carefully, the unfolding leadership and succession disputes in the opposition MDC-T party could lead to yet another split,” he said.
“The challenges must be resolved peacefully in a manner respectful of human rights without resorting to violence or intimidation. If there is political will, now is the time for the MDC-T leadership to collectively approach a respected, independent mediator to help them find common ground and a way forward guided by the party constitution.”
Mavhinga said as the country goes for elections, the manner in which the party candles the matter will determine its future.
“How the MDC-T resolves these challenges will determine its brand. If violence and undemocratic means are used it will cost the party dearly,” he said.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure said it was regrettable that the current situation in the MDC-T would reduce the elections to a one-man race which is Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He said with the way things were going, the party might spilt.
“That party is on an inevitable path to disintegration. The question is how many parties will emerge after the spilt. Probably they may further disintegrate into two or three parts,” he said in relation to the feuding vice-presidents.
“I don’t see it becoming a united party going into elections. Their [Chamisa and Mudzuri] relationship has irretrievably broken down and each will go down with a number of votes. The party will split at best into two parts and at worst three parts and it is a regrettable development considering that there are about four months before the election,” he said.
Another analyst Rejoice Ngwenya, however, said if the fights persist this would result in multiple candidates representing the party or MDC alliance.