12 February 2018

Zimbabwe: Exclusive - 'I Respect My President's Family but They Are Not the MDC Party,' Says Tsvangirai's Deputy

Photo: The Herald
Opposition MDC-T Vice President Nelson Chamisa (file photo).

Power struggles remained in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) over the weekend, with Nelson Chamisa maintaining that he was the acting president of Zimbabwe's main opposition party.

Reports last week indicated that the MDC was embroiled in a power struggle over who was in charge of the party - months before key elections - as its leader Morgan Tsvangirai received cancer treatment in hospital.

Chamisa and Elias Mudziri, who were both vice presidents of the MDC clashed openly over who was acting leader while Tsvangirai underwent chemotherapy at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg.

Both Chamisa, 40, and Mudzuri, 60, claimed on social media to be in charge as the party prepared to take on the ruling Zanu-PF in the first polls since Robert Mugabe's fall.

The crisis widened after Tsvangirai's family also weighed in, supporting Mudzuri as the acting leader of the party.

According to an SABC news report, Tsvangirai's family said that Mudzuri was in charge of the party.

But in an interview with News24, Chamisa said that although he "respected" the veteran politician's family, it was unfortunate that they were "not privy to party decisions" as they were structures within the MDC to do that.

Chamisa said he was busy preparing for the forthcoming elections as per Tsvangirai's instruction.

"Look I don't understand what the family is saying. We are not worried about what they are saying," he said.

"I respect my president's family but they are not the party. The party has its own structures in place to communicate party matters, and those channels are exactly the ones through which the issue of being appointed as acting party leader was communicated."

But Chamisa, who claimed to have met with several party structures, including the women's and youth leagues, said that he was not going to be side stepped from doing what he had been instructed to do by Tsvangirai.

"I am an acting president because I was instructed to act in that capacity. I am not going to lose focus of the bigger picture because of an unnecessary stampede. I am in Mashonaland east and meeting the people. We want our darts stack in a row and prepare for an election. We want to deliver a prosperous country for Zimbabweans, and we can only do that when we remain focused," said Chamisa.

The youthful leader said that the party remained united and was preparing to win the elections.

Chamisa said the party's "integrity and unity" remained intact despite a widening leadership fight among the two deputies.

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