via Tsvangirai suffers huge setback 19 September 2014
THE MDC-T national council on Friday rejected constitutional proposals that were reportedly being pushed by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The proposals would have whittled the powers of the secretary general and concentrated power in the office of the president. They would also have allowed Tsvangirai to appoint key personnel.
In a statement to the press yesterday following the conclusion of marathon meetings that began Thursday, MDC-T spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora, said the proposals had been “roundly rejected”.
“Among the key resolutions made after protracted debate in line with our democratic tradition are, the 14 standing committee members, including the president, will be directly elected by the people at congress.
“What we identified as the executive is that the source of abuse of office by the secretary generals has not been, per se, as a result of the powers enshrined in the constitution, it has been a combination of personal attitudes and personal inclinations.”
He added: “It has also been because of the vagueness of the office and the powers of the secretary general. We have sought to make these powers specific; we have also sought to define the constitution.”
The proposal to whittle down the powers of the secretary general came after former secretary general Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer, Elton Mangoma, led a putsch against Tsvangirai in April demanding leadership renewal within the party.
Tsvangirai responded by seeking to railroad a raft of constitutional changes that would have seen the elective congress in October electing at most the party’s “top six” while the rest of the executive was to be appointed by the president from a pool elected by the same congress.
The former prime minister and his backers have been arguing the splits that have bedeviled the party since its formation in 1999 stemmed from the “two centres of power” created by an elected secretary general who had more powers than the president.
There has been a growing antagonism within the party against lawyers and Tsvangirai’s problems have been compounded by the fact that the front-runners to the post in the coming congress, Douglas Mwonzora and Nelson Chamisa, are trained lawyers.
Regarding the issue of two deputy presidents, Mwonzora told journalists that the idea was a waste of money that had been created by Zanu PF to appease its Zapu counterparts.
“Both the national executive and national council unreservedly rejected the idea because it is alien to us as a democratic movement,” he said.
President Robert Mugabe and then Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo introduced the two vice-presidents model following the merger of their parties in 1987 after civil strife in the Matabeleland regions.
Tsvangirai a few months ago told a foreign-based radio station in an interview that “the party given its experience with splits led by secretary generals needed to have a re-look at the post with a view of bringing stability and direction to leadership and avoid future occurrences”.