The MDC is heading for choppy waters following the appointment of Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as vice presidents.
Mr Chamisa lost to Mr Douglas Mwonzora in the race for the party’s secretary general post during their 2014 congress despite the former going into the election as a clear favourite having secured more nominations from provinces.
It was reported then, that Mr Chamisa had fallen from grace after the Khupe-led faction had convinced Mr Tsvangirai that the lawyer wanted to topple him. After Mr Chamisa’s loss, Mr Tsvangirai retained him together with Eng Mudzuri, who had also fallen out of favour with the MDC-T leader, in the party’s national executive.
While the jury is still out on whether the party breached its constitution by the appointments, insiders yesterday said Mr Tsvangirai was doing a “faction realignment strategy” in a bid to counter moves by a faction led by Ms Khupe who is reportedly eyeing his position.
“There are many scenarios here. Firstly, Tsvangirai by these appointments has all but confirmed that he is tired as the cancer is taking a toll on his body and therefore needs energetic people to assist him,” said an insider.
“Secondly, the realignment with Chamisa, once accused of eyeing his post, can be seen as a counter to manoeuvres by the Khupe-led faction who are making a go of his position. The appointment has eroded Khupe’s influence and power and ultimately threatens her entire existence in the presidium.”
The insider said Mr Tsvangirai, though publicly supporting Evan Mawarire’s calls for anarchy in the country, was worried that the pastor was taking the limelight from the main opposition party.
“It is believed that the coming of Chamisa to the presidency will serve to counter organisations like #ThisFlag. There is a likelihood that Chamisa will lead the party when it resumes its provincial demonstrations and bank on his charisma to win back the people who have strayed to Mawarire,” said the insider.
The appointment of Eng Mudzuri and Mr Chamisa both originally from Masvingo province, sources said, is likely to cause further ructions in the party as they seem to point to a regional bias.
“What’s clear is that Khupe has fallen out of favour with Tsvangirai and in the party’s succession matrix, Chamisa is now more likely to be the successor. Khupe will remain in the presidency just for the Matabeleland vote but from the way things stand, her present position is the furthest she will go in the party,” said the source. Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Mr Luke Tamborinyoka, told The Herald that his boss’ appointments were supported by the party constitution.
“The party constitution was amended at the last congress and he (Mr Tsvangirai) is empowered to make such appointments. The national council met yesterday and he is exercising his powers in terms of the constitution and in line with the directive of the national council,” said Mr Tamborinyoka.
Quizzed on the regional background of the new deputies and whether the move was to contain factionalism, Mr Tamborinyoka responded, “president Tsvangirai doesn’t care where people come from. He looks at the job that needs to be done and your capabilities. Where you come from doesn’t matter and it’s his discretion to do so. He knows what he wants to do ahead of 2018 elections and the three deputies, unlike in Zanu-PF, will not be using tax payers’ money.
“I’m sure you’re mistaking MDC for Zanu-PF. The words factions and factionalism have taken a permanent residence in Zanu-PF and it will be mischievous for The Herald to try and relocate it in MDC.”
However, there were already indications of discontent in the party, with its spokesperson, Mr Obert Gutu posting a cryptic message on Facebook last night. “How many of you folks have ever attended a circus? It can actually be extremely amusing, if you didn’t know.” His followers immediately interpreted the post as a comment on the appointments that Mr Tsvangirai had made earlier in the day. chronicle