Fresh cracks are set to rock the MDC-T after party vice-president Thokozani Khupe teamed up with senior officials to thwart leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s bid to centralise power.
Party officials this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that Khupe, along with party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora and organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, vehemently opposed the idea of amending the MDC-T constitution to centralise power in the hands of the party leader.
Tsvangirai’s backers had proposed changes to the MDC-T constitution, which would among other things weaken the secretary-general’s authority, while allowing the president to appoint members of the standing committee.
The proposals include creating a second vice-president’s position.
The MDC-T is seeking to borrow from the Zanu PF template where President Robert Mugabe appoints the politburo and enjoys unfettered powers.
Tsvangirai is also said to be keen to limit the secretary-general’s powers as he believes the position gives the holder power to manipulate party structures. He has faced rebellion from two of his former secretaries-general in Welshman Ncube, who led a breakaway group in 2005, and Tendai Biti who was “expelled” from the party earlier this year and leads a splinter formation.
Khupe and other senior party officials are said to have mobilised the national executive to resist the recommendations at a national executive meeting held in Kadoma last week.
The proposed constitutional changes were shot down as they were demeed undemocratic.
Sources said the proposals were being pushed by MDC-T deputy chairperson Morgen Komichi, who is tipped for the second vice-presidency at the party congress to be held in October following the flight of top party leaders, among them Biti and deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma amid calls for leadership renewal.
Komichi has the backing of national executive member Morgan Femai for the position of party second vice-presidency.
However, a source privy to the goings-on in the party indicated that Komichi was at the forefront pushing for the constitutional changes that could give Tsvangirai unfettered powers.
“The prime mover is Komichi who claimed that he had travelled across the country and sought the views of party members and they had said they wanted the constitutional changes,” said the source who preferred anonymity.
Though Komichi is eyeing the vice-presidency, sources said Tsvangirai’s preferred candidate is Mufakose legislator Paurina Mpariwa, following his fallout with Khupe who has been blamed for the factional fights in Matabeleland and Bulawayo.
MDC-T national chairperson Lovemore Moyo is also targeting the same position.
“The party wants to make sure that there is regional and gender balance when electing the two deputy presidents. Femai wants to be appointed vice-chairman of the party. It’s just a little minority, a clique of unelectable people. It is insignificant but very dangerous because of the influence it has on Tsvangirai. If Tsvangirai is not careful, it can lead to another split in the party,” the source added.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the issues would be addressed at a press conference today.
In a statement last week, Tamborinyoka said the constitutional review had nothing to do with entrenching anyone’s position, but strengthening the party as an institution.
“As the current leader of our democratic party, president Tsvangirai will not allow the process to degenerate into the creation of all-powerful individuals, especially in the presidency,” he said. “Zimbabwe has sad stories to tell on the abuse of the powers of an executive president and we have learnt that autocracy is a monumental vice that cannot be mimicked, even in a party constitution.”
Party members are already jostling for posts with Women’s Assembly chairperson and now acting treasurer-general, Theresa Makone, vying for the treasurer’s post which is also eyed by current deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada.
Chamisa is said to be vying for the secretary-general’s post and is likely to fight it out with Mwonzora.