MDC-T leadership fight: Chamisa digs in

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MDC-T acting president Nelson Chamisa says his appointment is above board and insists that reservations being raised by his political rivals are personal.

By Wongai Zhangazha

The MDC-T national council, which is the top decision-making body outside congress, last week endorsed Chamisa as acting president of the party, just after the late president Morgan Tsvangirai’s death. The meeting was boycotted by vice-presidents Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe among other officials.

“We have no time to look at personal arguments and wanting to arrogate them to be constitutional arguments, because they are not. Opinions of comrades are not resolutions. The party is bound by resolutions, the party is bound by organs not perspectives, not fictional imaginations and let this constitutional debate be clear to all and sundry who would care to listen that the MDC-T is perfectly constitutional,” Chamisa said.

Section 9.21.1 states that in the event of the death or resignation of the president, the deputy president assumes the role of acting president, pending the holding of an extraordinary congress that shall be held to elect a new president. The congress should be held no later than a year from the death or resignation of the former president.

“Now it must be understood and appreciated that in terms of the MDC constitution we have three deputy presidents and these three deputy presidents are in terms of Section 6.4.4.1 of the constitution, far from the lie that has been peddled, that there is so-called elected and so-called appointed. It is not constitutionally backed; it is not legally backed. There is nothing in the constitution that says that there is a deputy president who was elected there is a deputy president who was appointed,” he said.

“All the deputy presidents; the three of them, are a creature of the constitution either through congress in the case of Khupe because she was only one. But there was a vacancy that had to be filled in which position was then supposed to be filled in by the national council sitting as congress in line with the resolution of the party.”
Chamisa said because there are three constitutionally derived deputy presidents, “the key question is that once the president demises or is not present, has died or has resigned, Section 9.21.1 kicks in, to make sure there is a deputy president who acts pending the holding of an extraordinary congress”. The deputy president acts for 12 months within which he is supposed to convene an extraordinary congress.

“The national council because there are three deputy presidents, there is nobody that appoints an acting deputy president in the absence of a president except the supreme decision-making body in between congress which is the national council, in terms of its powers as articulated in Article 18,” he said.

Article 18 states that: “In any place where the requirements of this constitution cannot be satisfied because of an omission or oversight in draughtsmanship, or because a body provided for has not been established, or an officer provided for in this constitution has not been elected or appointed, or because of a procedural problem; the national council shall have the power to make such arrangements which, in their opinion, satisfy the spirit of this constitution and shall seek approval for such arrangements at the next congress.

“That is what we did in terms of this article because it is not provided for how we arrive at a single deputy president in the event of three deputy presidents. So the national council chose one of the three deputy presidents to be acting pending the holding of a general extraordinary congress.”

Chamisa said as a way forward there are two issues that are supposed to be tackled, and the national council has already pronounced itself that it does not want unnecessary and undue disturbance in the leadership.
“It’s only some comrades who feel that they also want to be acting. But you can’t act when you are secretary-general because the request was that let us open this whole thing so that we can also act. But we said it’s unfortunate because it is specific the constitution says one of the deputy presidents,” he said.
Chamisa said it is a “false argument” that Khupe is the one who should act since she was elected at the 2014 MDC-T national congress.

“It is an opinion. There is nowhere in the constitution which says Khupe or such and such has been elected as deputy president. It’s not true. In fact, Khupe was simply nominated and not opposed at congress. There was never an election on Khupe’s position and we must not mistake magnanimity of party structures for an election. It’s not correct; it has no constitutional backing whatsoever,” Chamisa said. “Yes, she came through congress but congress also delegated its power to the national council to sit as congress to finish congressional business, of which part of the congressional business was to elect the other deputy president which is what was done so effectively. They even went to court challenging this issue and the court pronounced itself on these issues — the Murimoga challenge.”

He said if there is any aggrieved member, their remedy is to go to the council and request an extraordinary congress.
He said calls by Mwonzora for a March extraordinary congress are the secretary-general’s opinion, arguing that he does not have the powers to call for a congress.

“There are two platforms to resolve the issue of the candidate to the general elections: the national council can resolve the issue of the candidate though they have already said by operation of law it’s automatic that the person who is acting can be a candidate. It can be resolved; if there are others who feel that there are better candidates the national council can still be seized with it. Or if there are others who feel that there has to be a substantive president, not an acting one, the national council can deal with it and it has to do so by a secret ballot in terms of Section 6.4.2.1(k) to replace the president,” Chamisa said.

“If I am to be made a president I have to go there and if I am elected there I become substantive. So national council can, and under those circumstances you don’t need an extraordinary congress until the next congress. Mind you the next congress is due in 2019. So it’s a very important debate within the party to say do you need an extraordinary congress if you have a congress in 2019? Even if you are going to have congress, is it an extraordinary congress just for the president or for the entire standing committee, especially considering the fact that we are just a few months away from the actual congress in 2019.”

Chamisa said people can choose their presidential candidate through platforms, through the national council, or through an extraordinary congress in terms of Section 6.2.5. Section 6.2.5 states that an extraordinary congress may be called: (a) by a simple majority vote of the national council or two thirds vote of the national executive which vote shall be conducted by a secret ballot; (b) Upon the written request received from at least one-third of the members entitled to attend the congress submitted to the secretary-general; or (c) Upon the written request received from at least two-thirds of the provincial councils submitted to the secretary-general.

Meanwhile, MDC-T deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada said it was not possible to hold an extraordinary congress between now and July when elections are due. He said according to timelines provided in the constitution, an extraordinary congress, a mandatory notice of two months is provided for all the mini-congresses, from branch to provincial levels.

“I therefore argue that a normal congress can only be constitutionally convened in December 2018 at the very earliest. It is only the national council which can resolve that an extraordinary congress be held,” Mashakada said.

He said Chamisa shall stand as the party candidate unless the national council revokes its earlier decision.

Constitutional lawyer Alex Magaisa said succession battles in the MDC-T were more political than constitutional.

“From a strategic point of view, it is a copy of how the coup-plotters conducted themselves last November when (former president Robert) Mugabe was deposed,” Magaisa said. “The constitution was sacrificed on the altar of politics and in both cases there was popular support. It is yet another example of the fact that when law and politics clash, often times the law plays second fiddle to politics.”

Magaisa pointed out that it was important for all levels to embrace constitutionalism.

“For my part, while I believe popular opinion is critical, my view is that it must be expressed through and in accordance with clear rules that are set in advance. If Zimbabwe is to make progress, constitutionalism must be embraced at all levels — from the political party entity to the nation-state. It is important to do the right thing but it is also important to ensure that it is done in the proper manner,” he said. “That Chamisa is a hugely popular choice is not in doubt and it would probably be futile to fight this politically. But it would help Chamisa’s cause in the long run to make sure that the political is backed by the legal.”

14 thoughts on “MDC-T leadership fight: Chamisa digs in”

  1. Kufandada says:

    The courts have already decided that Chamisa and Mudzuri are Deputy President according to MDC Constitution.Chamisa is being sabotaged by colleagues in Standing Committee.A full congress will give him a fresh mandate with a new team minus Khupe and Mwonzora.But it is not practical to have a new congress before elections.

    An extraordinary congress requires just one month’s Notice though.

    But Chamisa is right,congress can only be called by National Council.If MDC must follow the Constitution,National Council has decided that congress will be held in 2019.Should MDC have an extraordinary congress to please just 3 dissenters?

  2. Chimwamuna Chamimba says:

    Some people are there only to be spoilers, this could all be emanating from mere jealous and malice…the people in MDC have already spoken and approved Chamisa, after all Chamisa is only acting for the next 12 months only, so why make it an issue! Why don’t these 3, Mudzuri, Mwonzora & Khupe unite behind Chamisa, then go to the so called Extra Ordinary Congress in 12 months to contest for the position..?? Sometimes old people behave like kids…! What kind of spirit is this, only 3 people making noise about it, but very damaging noise, now the enemy will run with this damaging noise coming from our own camp!!! To be honest I think these 3 have just made themselves the most hated in the party right now and I do not see them winning anything even at the extra ordinary congress!! They have just camapaigned themselves from top positions they currently hold to ordinary card carrying members, because one thing for sure and certain is MDC supporters are not stupid, the people know what they want…!!

    1. Stev says:

      This is absolutely a fact which need not to be debated, Khupe and Mudzuri must read the mood of the people politically they have already spoken period

  3. Maonazvangu says:

    Why did the National Council “elect” Chamisa acting president in the absence of key figures like Khupe, Moyo, Mwonzora etc? To me, this was to forestall a properly constituted election and then it becomes a palace coup. Anyway, all those who are rooting for Chamisa you will have your day when he is eventually “defeated’ by another coup plotter in the mould of ED. Between the two of them, not much to choose from and I can only say “cry my beloved Zimbabwe”

  4. Kufandada says:

    The National Council was properly called.A quorum is a quorum ,and no one individual is more important than another.Mwonzora decided to walk out,Khupe and Moyo have been sulking for several months and boycotting party programmes.Chamisa has been very decisive and taken the bull by the horns.That is what is called leadership.

  5. Commander Guvamatongo says:

    Can the party go to elections with a candidate who is an acting capacity? Please educate me. And also why using the term ‘acting’ instead of interim. On his behalf is he acting?

  6. Gwinaldo says:

    VaMagaisa I totally agree with you. Well said.

  7. Grade Two says:

    The problem that has brought us to this messy as a country is that we don’ want to listen to the voices of the people. Ordinary people the stockholders of MDC-T have already spoken. They have alredy endorsed Chamisa at the chagrin of Khupe and Mudzuri. The best they can do is to embrace this Chamisa or else they will find themselves in the political dustbin. Like Chamisa pointed because of the magnaminity of Morgen Khupe’s was not contested in the last congress , if she was contested who knows she could have been defeated. So Khupe and Mudzuri you dont have what it takes to match this youngster unfortunately. If your lawyers and advisors are honest to you and to themselves they must advise your accordingly. I dont know what you are lacking but surely you dont have that charisma, energy what ever. Vazhinji vaingoberekwa naMorgen probably the reason he anointed this boy ahead of you two. I Know you may be feeling like you were used but it doesnt not help to take chances especially at this stage to put someone fully knowing that they are not capable. Its better to loose having fielded your strongest team than to experiement. Sorry guys l am not a MDC card carrying member but it times we need to be realistic and honest to ourselves.

  8. Naome says:

    Let God arise and his enemies be scattered. The enemies of ZANU are being scattered to the extent of committing violence which theu accused ZANU of to the extent of asking for sanctions against the ZANu government. The achtects of democracy the respectors of human rights now you are calling people disdants a work that was burried in 1987 when ZANU and ZAPU united.

    Pedzanayi

  9. Zvusvumbwi says:

    From above it appears to me that, Chamisa is very much constitutional….

  10. Memory says:

    If MDC-T dumps the wishes of the majority to satisfy Khupe and others, it will be reducing it’s chances of winning the upcoming election. An election is not won by members but by voters.. Voters’ desire to exercise their voting rights has already been revived by the likelihood of having Chamisa as one of the presidential candidates in the next election.

  11. rafu says:

    Chamisa executed a coup that could one day come back to haunt him and the MDC party. The unfortunate bit here is that his supporters equate questioning this move with opposing him as a presidential candidate. This is very unfortunate and disturbing. It’s as weird as watching a crowd demonstrate against the arrest of a criminal – not because he didn’t commit the crime but because he is a popular person!.

    1. Munodawafa says:

      I am not sure you understand the constitution. The courts had rule the constitution correct who are to think differently. Khupe has not been attending meetings for eight months and all of a sudden attend a funeral and claim to be the right one. Where was she the last eight months.

  12. tg says:

    Kupe shut up your mouth.Chamisa for president.stop tryng to bring confusinon.we dont want you toda va Chamisa

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