Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Sets Chamisa Up for Rough Play By MDC Leadership Rivals

Photo: The Herald
Morgan Tsvangirai.

MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai could have set one of his deputies Nelson Chamisa to potential rough tackling by party rivals when he inadvertently revealed plans to relinquish his job to the "younger generation".

In his most telling admission he could contemplating stepping down, the ex-Prime Minister said in his new year message to Zimbabweans on Monday it was time for the older generation to step aside.

"I am looking at the imminent prospects of us as the older generation leaving the levers of leadership to allow the younger generation to take forward this huge task that we started together so many years ago with our full blessing and support," Tsvangirai said.

"It was therefore not by accident but by design that when I disclosed to you my health status, I also took a bold step to appoint an additional two Vice Presidents to assist me... "

Of the current three contenders to the MDC-T top job, Chamisa, who turns 40 next month, is the youngest.

The others are Thokozani Khuphe (54) who was elected into the second most influential party position in 2014 while Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri (60) are later appointees.

Critics say the dynamics are complex and too scary to imagine, leaving Tsvangirai in a very invidious position of what to do in the current circumstances.

Khuphe is the only elected and most senior of the three but could be overlooked as her Ndebele origins fall short of the unwritten law of Zimbabwean politics which place members of the majority Shona tribe in the driving seat while Ndebeles deputise.

Going by that convention, it could well be in Tsvangirai's private contemplation that Khuphe may find it tough to attract national support.

Conversely, Chamisa comes with age, energy, dynamism and could well be the much-needed magnet to woo a young vote which has remained elusive in past elections.

His blemish is that he remains unelected and was a beneficiary of Tsvangirai's politics of factional balance.

But he could argue his loss to party secretary general Douglas Mwonzora in 2014 when all pointed to a runaway victory during internal polls was engineered by Tsvangirai who was keen to stop what had turned out to be his young lieutenant's unbridled ambition to take over.

For his part, Mudzuri is a mature politician of many battles who enjoys a great measure of political support within MDC-T structures.

He is credited with the famous MDC-T poll victory in 2008 when he was party organising secretary, something Chamisa is accused of failing to replicate in the same position 2013.

When the two went head-to-head for national organising secretary in Bulawayo earlier, Mudzuri was floored by Chamisa.

Critics have warned Tsvangirai could torch a storm if his intentions to pass the baton to the young generation implied Chamisa was his immediate choice.

"First and foremost, one has to ask why did Morgan appoint two Vice Presidents - Zanu PF style - when there had been an election in which both, especially Chamisa, lost to VP Khupe and SG Mwonzora," said renowned publisher and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza Monday.

"Secondly, is he not aware that he has caused a divide between elected officials and appointed ones, in a manner which betrays, as in Zanu PF, his intentions to impose s successor?

"All these doubts can be dispelled only by a party congress during which the succession issue can be resolved democratically.

"Otherwise, speculation will persist about the current politics in MDC-T, including rumours about the extent to which the opposition party, and some of its leaders, have already been captured by the not-so-new state administration."

Harare based political analyst Wellington Zindi, similarly, also warned against the imposition of a successor.

"It's not democratic to anoint Chamisa, any succession talk should be subject to a congress," Zindi said.

The looming MDC-T power struggles, it is feared, could also torpedo the loosely formed opposition alliance to contest Zanu PF in elections due this year.

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