SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Calls for Early Congress in March, but No Takers

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday moved a motion to call for an early congress in March, in an attempt to head off an expected challenge from his political rivals.

The top leadership of the opposition party, the standing committee, met in Harare where Tsvangirai called for a snap party vote in a bid to end uncertainty over his job.

SW Radio Africa is reliably informed that the motion was not seconded by anybody, amid reports Tsvangirai had also put up his name for re-election. He told the meeting he was prepared to face any challengers.

Instead, party members implored Tsvangirai to concentrate on restructuring the party in preparations for the 2018 elections. The meeting unanimously agreed the next congress will be held as scheduled in 2016.

The vote will have brought to a head months of tension within the party over who will lead it into the election in 2018. It would also have helped settle Tsvangirai's long-running leadership tussle with his rivals, who were reportedly orchestrating a revolt that would have seen the veteran trade unionist ousted as party president.

Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora confirmed that the issue of leadership renewal was discussed and that after some debate they felt there were no compelling reasons for having an early congress.

The outcome is a major boast for Tsvangirai who was facing increasing pressure from within his party to call for an early congress to deal with the leadership renewal or step down and make way for another candidate.

A source told us he emerged from his party's meeting emboldened with the knowledge that no one had the guts to stand up and challenge him in a leadership contest.

'It's like he's received a vote of confidence from his standing committee and all talk of a leadership contest or him stepping down will be put on the backburner for the next two years. It has given Tsvangirai some breathing space which he will use to rebrand himself as well as the party,' our source said.

Despite their loss at the hands of ZANU PF at last year's elections Mwonzora says he is optimistic about the MDC-T's chances of rebuilding, saying the labour backed party needs to rebuild and show Zimbabweans it can be 'united, stable and focused on them, and not ourselves as leaders.'

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