MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is facing renewed internal attacks from senior party officials who are holding clandestine meetings to plot his ouster through an early congress which they are pushing to be held in March 2014 instead of 2016 when it is due.
Former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri is tipped to take over as party president in a line-up that also comprises former ministers in the coalition government with Zanu PF which ended in July after four years.
MDC-T insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent the secret meetings are taking place at various locations within Harare including a lodge in the city centre which has a reputation as a hangout for party officials and civil society activists.
“There is a growing belief within the party that Tsvangirai no longer has the clout to take the party forward and wrest the presidency from Zanu PF,” said a senior party source. “He may have lost to (President Robert) Mugabe under highly controversial circumstances, but even some of our backers are of the opinion that he has done all he can do for the party as its leader.”
Former ministers Elton Mangoma and Tapiwa Mashakada are said to be spearheading the quest to “renew and re-invigorate the party”, which they intend to accomplish at an extraordinary party congress to be held in March next year, said the highly-placed insiders.
The next congress is due in 2016, five years after the last one in 2011 in terms of the party constitution. Among those earmarked for top leadership positions is Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo, tipped to become deputy president.
“Lovemore Moyo and Tendai Biti will retain their posts as chairperson and secretary-general respectively,” a source said, adding that “youth leader Solomon Madzore will take over as the new organising secretary with Bulawayo provincial chairperson Gorden Moyo as his deputy. Mangoma will be the treasurer.”
Tsvangirai, who suffered a crushing defeat after Mugabe controversially garnered 61% of the presidential vote, has strongly rejected calls from his senior lieutenants to step down insisting he will face the storm.
Self-exiled treasurer-general Roy Bennett led the calls for Tsvangirai to step down after Mugabe won, with former Marondera MP Ian Kay and other party officials following suit.
Last week Mudzuri publicly waded into the debate in an article published in The Standard proffering scenarios which the MDC-T should consider if it is to survive and win the 2018 elections.
In one such scenario, Mudzuri posits that Tsvangirai “steps down ceremoniously and a new leader is elected. He becomes ‘a Mandela’ of the party. Structures are re-engineered including the party constitution which will limit the future party presidency to two terms only”.
But Tsvangirai has already brushed aside such suggestions insisting he will see out his full term, much to the chagrin of Kay who compared him to a “rusty bolt” and a captain of a sinking ship.
In a recent interview with the BBC in the UK, Tsvangirai said he is not ready to give up and will be Zimbabwe’s head of state.