Opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa wants to keep all three vice presidents, as he looks to the 2023 election in which the Constitution provides for a running mate, NewZimbabwe.com can reveal.
Insiders said the idea of having three vice presidents was in keeping with the MDC's social democracy ideology and copying what other like-minded parties are doing across the world.
"The election of three deputy presidents is in keeping with our social democratic roots. The idea is to have functional vice presidents like one in-charge of international relations, another administration and so forth," said a source.
But another senior official who spoke on condition they are not named provided another dimension to the political intrigue.
"Its political chicanery. Three vice presidents will give him room to play one against the other and the chance to have one of his on close to him. If only one is elected, they automatically become the running mate in the coming elections and that provides for another centre of power.
"But in the envisaged scenario the run-up to the elections in 2023 the president will then appoint from the three a running mate of his choice," NewZimbabwe.com heard.
"But all this is subject to ratification by the national council."
Mafume confirmed the MDC will elect three vice presidents.
"Currently there are three vice presidents. That has not changed. It will continue as is unless the national council decided otherwise," he said.
According to various sources who attended the MDC's national standing committee meeting held, Wednesday, the opposition party will open contestation to other positions including the secretary general.
"There was serious debate around which positions should be contested. In the end the group that was pushing for democracy in the party carried the day.
"Surprisingly even some returning comrades like (former secretary general and current deputy national chairperson) Tendai Biti argued hard to have all positions contested," said a source.
NewZimbabwe.com also heard that the MDC will elect three vice presidents, a national chairperson, deputy national chairperson, secretary general, deputy secretary general, treasurer general and the deputy, an organising secretary as well as a deputy.
But spokesperson Mafume said no decision has been made adding there are proposals to allow for other positions to be contested.
"The national standing committee met and took note that the constitution is clear that the election goes up to the position of vice chairperson. From the secretary general going downwards the president can appoint.
"However presentations have been made to open up the contestation to the position of organising secretary. The suggestion is the president appoints deputy treasure general and deputy organising secretary to allow for capacity and gender balance," said Mafume.
"It has also been suggested that the president as is the norm appoints the secretary for information, the deputy and all other portfolio secretaries."
He said the party's standing committee will meet again to look at the issue before making a resolution that will have to be endorsed by the MDC national council.
Other sources said the prime mover of a free for all congress was secretary general Douglas Mwonzora reportedly set to challenge Chamisa for the presidency at the congress.
"But people must remember Mwonzora supported the idea of an imperial presidency accorded to Tsvangirai back in 2014. In fact Chamisa opposed the move arguing we were centralizing too much power in one man.
"Now as fate would have it, Mwonzora thinks it's a bad idea because the shoe is on the other foot," said the insider.
Chamisa is a beneficiary of appointment after being elevated to the position of vice president in July 2016 by the party's late founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The 41 year-old lawyer had been trounced by his arch-rival Mwonzora at the 2014 congress in the race to take the position of secretary general.