JOCKEYING for positions in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction led by founding party leader Morgan Tsvangirai intensified this week ahead of the group’s congress this weekend.
Tsvangirai’s camp holds its co
ngress from tomorrow to Sunday to choose a new leadership and fill vacant posts created by the split in the party.
The other MDC faction held its congress in Bulawayo two weeks ago where Professor Arthur Mutambara was elected leader.
Indications yesterday were that the jockeying for positions and behind-the-scenes campaigns had reached fever pitch among contestants although few new faces are expected to stage upsets in the Tsvangirai camp.
Tsvangirai is not expected to be challenged, but in the unlikely event that he is, he is widely tipped to roll over his competitor.
Tsvangirai’s spokesman William Bango has hinted at a possible challenge against his boss.
“There are whispers that two other people want to contest the post. We are not sure who they are but that is acceptable because the constitution allows people to be nominated from the floor,” Bango said.
The post of vice-president is open following the departure of Gibson Sibanda in the aftermath of the MDC split last October. Makokoba MP Thokozani Khupe and Matobo MP Lovemore Moyo are expected to lock horns with former Zanu PF politburo member Welshman Mabhena who has been touted as a contender for the post.
But other sources said Moyo would instead contest the newly-created post of vice national chairman to deputise Isaac Matongo.
Mabhena, a veteran politician who was once PF-Zapu secretary-general and Matabeleland North provincial governor, was dropped by President Robert Mugabe in 2000 after a major fallout. He recently confirmed that he had met with Tsvangirai four times over the MDC split. But he is considered by many to be “over the hill”.
Khupe on the other hand would bring the advantage of gender balance as well as satisfying the ethnic dimension.
The post of secretary-general appears to have generated the greatest interest. It was previously held by Welshman Ncube.
Contestants for the post include Tendai Biti, Tapiwa Mashakada and Ian Makone. But a dark horse, Elton Mangoma, a businessman who contested the March 2005 general election against Zanu PF heavyweight Didymus Mutasa in Makoni North, could spring a surprise.
Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro has also been linked to the same post but he is an outside runner. Biti is likely to get the job.
Sekai Holland is eyeing the foreign affairs spokesperson’s position. She was the founding secretary in that position. “She would suit the gender portfolio most as a veteran gender activist and politician,” a source said.
If Makone contests the secretary-general’s post, that would leave Roy Bennett as frontrunner for treasurer.
Bennett was recently elected as chairman of Manicaland province.
Spokesperson for the Tsvangirai faction, Nelson Chamisa, is said to be the favourite to win the post of secretary for information and publicity ahead of journalist-turned-politician Grace Kwinjeh who was MDC representative in Brussels. “It is the people who decide which portfolio I can handle best,” Chamisa said yesterday.
Dennis Murwira was being touted as a front-runner for the post of national organising secretary against former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri. Mudzuri, who has been studying at Harvard University in the US, is in the country for the elections. It is doubtful whether any candidates will throw their hats into the ring to challenge Matongo who currently holds the position of chairman.
Major highlights of the congress appear to be the adoption of an expanded management committee from six to eleven while the national council is likely to be enlarged to avoid vote-buying.