via Opposition MDC-T rocked by dissent | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda November 8, 2013
Three months after facing his shock electoral defeat at the hands of Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai is finding himself in unfamiliar territory, his party rocked by dissent and facing stronger calls to step down as leader.
The combination of internal dissent against Tsvangirai, as well as serious efforts by his political opponents to organise an early congress to oust him, come amid early strategising for the 2018 polls.
Whether the opposition party can iron out its differences and fend off growing challenges to Tsvangirai’s continued leadership one thing is clear; Tsvangirai still enjoys massive grassroots support and will be difficult to dislodge.
Sources have told SW Radio Africa that Tsvangirai is not against an early congress but is worried its outcome could leave the party deeply divided.
However party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora quashed reports the party might entertain the possibility of having an early congress next year to deal with the leadership question.
He said calls for an early congress were coming from a small minority of people and that it does not bother them, as party members are entitled to express their views.
‘We are a democratic party and people can say what they want as long as it is said at the correct forums. Unfortunately the issue of early congress was settled by the national executive, standing committee and national council which are the governing organs of the party.
‘The three bodies were unanimous that congress will be held as scheduled in 2016. At that congress anybody who wishes to contest for any position is free to do that,’ Mwonzora said.
Many in the MDC’s top leadership at provincial level have told us that if the party is to remain relevant, the founding president should remain at the helm of the party.
‘Tsvangirai should be left to decide what is good for the party. He is the only individual who can decide to step down at the 2016 congress or continue as leader if he gets re-elected. The man has grassroots support that is unparalleled by anybody in the combined opposition,’ a Midlands based MDC-T MP said.
Political commentator Itai Dzamara told us it is too early to suggest the party may lose the next election unless genuine efforts are made to reconcile the aggrieved members or have a leadership renewal.
‘The challenges facing the party cannot be underestimated but should remain optimistic, that the MDC-T is capable of righting the ship and fight to win the next elections,’ Dzamara said.
The latest rift has been in the making for months, with one faction within the party opposed to Tsvangirai’s leadership. This has seen several members believed to be plotting their own run against the party leader.