via MDC-T hunts for Tsvangirai successor – The Standard by Patrice Makova September 15, 2013
MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai is mulling over a special congress for his party early next year in order to reinstate his legitimacy after losing the July 31 elections to President Robert Mugabe, it has emerged.
But senior officials in his party are already pushing for leadership renewal saying the MDC-T president was past his political prime time.
This comes amid widening cracks within the party, with different factions making accusations and counter-accusations on who was to blame for MDC-T’s heavy defeat at the hands of Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Some senior officials, notably self-exiled treasurer-general, Roy Bennett were already openly calling for a leadership renewal and Tsvangirai’s resignation.
Sources said Tsvangirai raised the issue of an early congress at a recent meeting of the MDC-T national standing committee.
A senior MDC-T official said Tsvangirai has also been consulting individual members of the national standing committee. He again raised the issue of a congress at the party’s national executive meeting on Friday.
“Tsvangirai knows that his rivals in the party are blaming him for the MDC-T loss. He no longer has the respect and confidence of some of his subordinates,” he said. “This is why he now wants an early congress, to resolve this leadership crisis and bury his rivals once and for all.”
An MDC-T national council member confirmed the proposal.
But he said the party was sharply divided over the issue, with some saying an early congress would likely further fragment the party.
“The fear is that we might not have an MDC-T to talk about come the 2018 elections,” said the party official.
He said Tsvangirai would go to the congress knowing that he still has popular support among the MDC-T supporters compared to any potential rivals.
“Tsvangirai will fight like a wounded buffalo. He will prevail, but the results of such a congress will be disastrous for the party,” said the official.
He said those who were supportive of the idea of a congress were secretary-general, Tendai Biti and national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, who are both being touted as possible future successors of Tsvangirai.
“Biti and Chamisa appear to be daring each other, with each of them saying let’s go for an early congress,” said the official.
Bennett last week told South Africa’s Business Day that Tsvangirai’s continued stay in power did not reflect the will of the people, saying he has served two terms and was nearly completing a third one.
“Deep introspection needs to be undertaken by our national collective leadership, not for purposes of looking for scapegoats, but for our party to reinvigorate its leadership with a leadership which reflects the will of our people,” he said.
The MDC-T lost elections to Zanu PF amid allegations of imposition of candidates, arrogance, lack of tact and complacency by the party leadership. But the party still insists that Zanu PF rigged the elections, allegations which are yet to be proved.
MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora and deputy treasurer-general, Elton Mangoma were said to be opposed to an early congress.
Mwonzora yesterday said an early congress was out of the question, insisting the event was still set for 2016.
“The national executive and national council met yesterday [Friday]and resolved that our congress will be held in 2016,” he said.
Mwonzora however confirmed that the Friday meeting also discussed Bennett’s utterances.
He added Tsvangirai, who has led the party since formation in 1999, agreed that indeed the issue of leadership renewal must be openly debated within the MDC-T and by the public.
“However, there is also a need that leaders maintain discipline with regards to where they air their views. But more importantly, Tsvangirai said the issue of succession must be talked about,” he said.