Zimbabwe: Mudzuri Speaks On MDC-T Presidency

WARREN Park MDC-T MP, Elias Mudzuri says the leadership of the opposition party will only be decided by the people when the appropriate time comes.

Mudzuri told The Standard from the United States last week that he was not pushing or gunning for the presidency of the MDC-T held by Morgan Tsvangirai, as it was entirely up to party members to choose their leader.

He said no one could impose himself or herself on party leadership, be it in MDC-T or Zanu PF.

"For me people will choose the leadership they want. I do not believe in fighting or pushing for a party position," said Mudzuri, a former Harare mayor.

He said anyone could also become a leader of any political party in the country, adding that positions should not be permanently linked to personalities.

"Right now it is Morgan Tsvangirai who is the leader of the MDC-T," Mudzuri said. "That thing [leadership] comes from the people. Whoever becomes leader, we will follow him. It is up to the people and not us."

The former Harare mayor said when the time for leadership renewal comes, there was a need for people to openly discuss and come up with a candidate of their choice.

"What we do not want is stifling of debate," he said.

Mudzuri said it was unfortunate that Zimbabweans were spending a lot of time discussing personalities such as whom between Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will succeed President Robert Mugabe in Zanu PF.

Instead, he said Zimbabweans should concentrate on responding to real bread and butter issues affecting the country.

Mudzuri said contrary to reports, he was not on a fundraising mission in the United States. He said he was visiting his wife Jabu who stays in the country together with one of his sons who is studying at university.

Mudzuri said he would also be spending a week in the United Kingdom to visit his three other children and grandchildren currently resident there.

"One does not need to go to the US or UK to look for money. I have not held any meetings to raise funds," said the MDC-T legislator. "I am simply spending time with my family because they did not come home for Christmas and I was also busy with work during the holidays."

The issue of leadership renewal is a hot potato within the MDC-T amid reports of serious clashes over the issue.

There are reports of some MDC-T officials pushing for Tsvangirai to resign who are calling for an early congress this year. Party secretary-general, Tendai Biti is one of those said to be interested in the MDC-T presidency. MDC-T funders are also said to be pushing for a foreign-based civil society candidate. But analysts have warned they lack grassroots support which Tsvangirai still widely enjoys.

Senior MDC-T officials, among them party treasurer, Roy Bennett, former Marondera Central MP Ian Kay have openly backed calls for leadership renewal in the MDC-T after the party suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Zanu-PF in the July 31 elections.

Mudzuri recently called for debate over the issue in an opinion published in The Standard where he offered five scenarios that he said could shape the destiny of the MDC-T.

In one of the scenarios, which sparked debate, Mudzuri opined that Tsvangirai becomes the godfather of the party, steps down ceremoniously and a new leader is elected.

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