THE MDC-T congress set for October will see party vice-president Thokozane Khupe facing stiff challenge from former Labour minister Paurina Mpariwa, as the battle for top posts intensifies.
According to MDC-T sources, Mufakose legislator Mpariwa is considered to be Tsvangirai’s preferred candidate following his fallout with Khupe, who has been blamed for the factional fights in Matabeleland and Bulawayo.
The sources said the party’s constitution is being amended to give powers to Tsvangirai to appoint a secretary-general (SG) as is the case in Zanu PF whose less powerful equivalent, the secretary for administration, is appointed together with other politburo members by the president.
Tsvangirai blames the split of the party in 2005 and early this year on Secretaries -general. Professor Welshman Ncube was the secretary-general in 2005 when he broke-off from the party to lead the splinter MDC group, while the current one, Tendai Biti is part of the MDC Renewal Team that recently “fired” Tsvangirai and other top officials from the party.
MDC-T shadow minister for Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Jessie Majome is heading a committee set up to deal with constitutional amendments.
“He (Tsvangirai) thinks that the reason why there have been two splits in the party both led by the secretaries-general is because of a structural problem. He thinks having an elected SG creates two centres of power,” said a source.
“This is the same argument used by Mugabe when Zanu PF abolished the post of SG to come up with the First Secretary, which combined presidential powers and those of the SG,” said the source.
Observers said it would be interesting to see whether the amendments to the party’s constitution see the re-introduction of term limits as they had been removed in the current constitution.
The MDC-T plans to introduce two deputy presidents in line with the national constitution, which stipulates that there shall be vice-presidents.
Lovemore Moyo, who is the current chairperson, and his deputy Morgen Komichi are also eyeing the vice-president posts.
However, the sources said the party would want to make sure that there is regional balance when electing the two deputy presidents. The party’s Women’s Assembly chairperson and now acting treasurer-general, Theresa Makone, is said to be vying for the treasurer’s post.
Party national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, who was earlier reported to be vying for the secretary-general’s post, is said to be weighing his options.
“He wants the SG post but now that it is going to be diluted he is seriously considering going for the chairman’s post, which will be the most powerful post after the president and his two deputies,” said the source.
Contacted for comment MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said every post was going to be contested from the highest to the lowest in the standing committee.
“We have not yet opened up for nominations of the different posts,” Mwonzora said. “That will be done after the provincial congresses. People are just speculating and that is normal when such a process is being done.”
On the amendments to the party’s constitution, Mwonzora said: “At every congress people are allowed to debate any amendment to the constitution. Majome is heading the constitutional review committee that will handle any proposed amendments. However, no proposals have been brought yet.”