via Tsvangirai okays succession debate by Nkosana Dlamini for NewZimbabwe 18/09/2013
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has virtually opened up debate around leadership change in his party but insists he will see through his five-year term as leader of the embattled political party.
Speaking Wednesday at an MDC-T press briefing to announce a list of party officials who will shadow President Robert Mugabe’s incumbent cabinet, Tsvangirai took time to hit back at his party treasurer turned critic, Roy Bennett, who has openly demanded his resignation.
Bennett, who is exiled in South Africa, told a South African newspaper last week that Tsvangirai should relinquish the post he has held on to since the formation of MDC in 1999 following his crushing election defeat to President Robert Mugabe on July 31.
In his response, Tsvangirai said Bennett had a right to post personal opinions through social media but declined this was a reflection of his party’s thinking.
“Our policy towards social media is that you can make comments about your own personal communication but party policies are articulated through the party spokesperson,” Tsvangirai said.
“So any comment that may be made at a personal level of party issues, it’s irresponsible, it’s not necessary.”
Tsvangirai said he will not suppress any debate in his party on matters of leadership renewal but insisted this should be by way of democratic, party internal processes.
“There is no sacred issue to debate,” he said, “If there is need for leadership renewal, we don’t suppress it. We actually encourage it. But you can’t just wake up in the streets and say ‘Tsvangirai must go’. There are processes that should be instituted and there are forums that will make that decision and one of those key forums is a congress.
“We are discussing that in the MDC openly unlike in other parties where it is almost taboo even when one is 90 years old, it cannot be discussed. So for me it’s not an issue. I’m not going to step aside because newspapers say you should step aside, because Zanu PF says you should step aside.”
Tsvangirai polled a paltry 34 percent of the presidential vote against President Mugabe’s 61 during the July 31 elections.
His critics accuse him of failing to provide effective leadership to dislodge Mugabe and his Zanu PF.
“Our stand is that this election was stolen. That’s the narrative,” Tsvangirai said. “If the election was stolen, you cannot ask for leadership renewal unless you have other motivations.”
Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister said his party’s national council, which has the power to make key party decisions in between congresses, was the only organ mandated with matters of leadership change.
He insisted sentiments around his ouster were being championed by his enemies and those bent on subverting the MDC-T constitution.
Tsvangirai continued: “For somebody to ask me to abandon the responsibility and mandate l was given only two, three years ago is not only irresponsible on my part, it is a betrayal of the people’s
expectations and aspirations.
“The struggle has to be executed and under the leadership of a standing committee that was elected at that congress and I am hoping, come 2016, that mandate would be reviewed by a duly constituted congress. There is no argument about that. I don’t intend to stay any day longer beyond my mandate.
“The struggle is not an event. The struggle is a process and l cannot in the middle of the struggle just abandon people. To what end? To what objective? To satisfy who? To satisfy Zanu PF? To satisfy people who have individual grudges or individual opinions against me? I don’t want to be liked by everyone but surely, l have a constituency which has given me the mandate and that is the mandate which l am going to pursue when the time comes which is 2016.”
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai has hinted at the possibility of sacking MDC-T councillors who ditched MDC-T preferred candidates for Zanu PF mayoral candidates in Monday’s polls.
“The constitution is very clear. The party has a right of recall, whether you are a councillor or an MP. When the party feels you are no longer representing its mandate, you can be recalled. Now in this instance a democratic process is already taking place whereby the councillors in those affected towns – Mutare, Victoria Falls, Kwekwe, Redcliff, Gweru and the provincial councils have been tasked to convene meetings of the district councils and all the ward structures where these councils emerge, they will have to answer to those structures whether they carried out the mandate that they were given,” Tsvangirai said.