INTENSIFYING power struggles within Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC -T are threatening to widen fissures in the party due to disagreements over the appropriate elections campaign strategy to adopt ahead of harmonised elections later this year.
Elias Mambo/Herbert Moyo
Sources said a meeting at which two strategies were tabled before the party’s standing committee for consideration and adoption of the better strategy ended without consensus as debate raged.
MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and party secretary-general Tendai Biti are said to have proposed an all-inclusive, party-centered campaign strategy which most senior party members seem to favour, while Tsvangirai’s chief advisor Alex Magaisa is said to prefer a presidentially-driven campaign strategy similar to that of the United States.
A party-centred approach concentrates on winning parliamentary seats while a presidential one entails directing efforts at campaigning for the party president with the hope that the party’s legislative candidates would also benefit.
Tsvangirai faces stiff resistance from his lieutenants pushing for the adoption of a monolithic party campaign strategy where sitting MPs campaign for the party as well as their presidential candidate.However, Tsvangirai is said to be pushing for a presidential-campaign driven approach in which all party members rally behind him before they canvass for votes for themselves.
“A presidentially-driven campaign thrust would ensure that Tsvangirai is safe because those wishing to represent the party as MPs are expected to campaign for the president first,” said the source.
“Tsvangirai wants everyone to campaign for him. He fears the Zanu PF bhora musango situation where MPs campaigned for themselves and told the electorate to vote for whomever they wanted in the 2008 presidential elections,” the source said. MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora was unavailable for comment.
In June 2008, President Robert Mugabe only managed to retain his position after Tsvangirai boycotted a run-off contest citing state-sponsored violence and killings, forcing the formation of a coalition government.
Zanu PF MPs had revolted against Mugabe at the height of the political and economic meltdown.