16 March 2014

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Prepares for Early Congress

Photo: Laura Angela Bagnetto/RFI
MDC-T supporters.

MDC-T has started preparations for an early congress meant to address serious leadership fights rocking the party, officials have confirmed.

Jostling has already begun with different factions in the party positioning their members for influential posts.

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora last week confirmed that the national council, the party's highest decision making body between congresses, finally agreed to hold an early congress in 2015 instead of the scheduled 2016.

"An early congress will ensure that we are prepared for the 2018 elections. It will make the party stronger and more united," he said.

Mwonzora said as preparations for the early congress begin, a "massive" restructuring of all the party's structures was set to begin to fill vacant posts so that there were no gaps from branches to national level.

He said once the restructuring exercise was concluded, the early congresses would begin at branch, district and then provincial levels.

Mwonzora said actual dates for the early national congress would be determined by the manner the smaller congresses progressed.

The MDC-T spokesperson dispelled fears that the restructuring exercise and lower-level congress would be used to eliminate dissenting voices, including officials linked to deputy treasurer-general, Elton Mangoma.

The deputy treasurer general was recently suspended for calling on Tsvangirai to resign.

"MDC officials should not be afraid of the people," Mwonzora said in reference to the impending lower level congresses. "It is them who said we should go for an early congress, but now they are afraid to go to the people."

He said MDC founding members, among them Job Sikhala, Joubert Mudzumwe and Edward Mkhosi who re-joined the Tsvangirai-led formation, were free to contest any position.

However, on the issue of Mangoma who has indicated his intention to challenge Tsvangirai, Mwonzora said the deputy treasurer general could only do that on condition that the disciplinary committee cleared him.

In the event that he is found guilty of charges he is facing, among them putting the name of the party into disrepute, Mwonzora said, Mangoma was entitled to appeal to congress.

Sources said Tsvangirai was unlikely to face any serious challenge as he still enjoyed grassroots support.

His deputy Thokozani Khupe is also expected to sail through, while national chairman Love-more Moyo was expected to retain his position.

Organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa is said to be eyeing the post of secretary-general currently held by Tendai Biti. The incumbent secretary-general is said to belong to a faction calling for leadership renewal in the party.

Biti recently came out in support of Mangoma after his suspension which he described as unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

The MDC-T sources said Tapiwa Mashakada is tipped to retain the deputy secretary-general's post.

Former Zanu PF Marondera legislator, Tracey Mutinhiri is tipped to take over as women's assembly boss from Theresa Makone.

Lawyer and Chikanga-Dangamvura legislator, Arnold Tsunga, who is said to be amenable to both factions in the MDC-T, is tipped to contest the treasurer-general's post currently held by Roy Bennett.

Clifford Hlatywayo is gunning for the Youth Assembly chairman's position, with civil society activist, Lovemore Chinoputsa said to be eyeing the post of secretary general.

Cracks within the MDC-T have been widening since the July elections which Zanu PF won by over two thirds majority, with President Robert Mugabe garnering 61% votes compared to Tsvangirai's 33%.

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