Home » Culture » Zimbabwe: Another MDC-T Split Imminent

THE appointment of Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as vice presidents of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) has opened a Pandora's Box in the fragile opposition party, amid fears of yet another split.

Mudzuri and Chamisa joined Thokozani Khupe last week as Morgan Tsvangirai's three deputies as the MDC-T leader sought to lessen the workload on his desk after he was diagnosed with cancer of the colon.

The appointments have inadvertently divided the MDC-T right through the middle.

Tsvangirai is being accused of making unilateral appointments and discarding his long-serving deputy, Khupe, whom many thought was a shoe-in in the race to succeed the former trade unionist.

He is also being accused of practising regionalism, tribalism and gender bias at a time when the MDC-T should be reaching out to all tribes, regions and women, who constitute more than 60 percent of the country's population.

Fears are that the country's largest opposition party could split once again if the fallout triggered by the appointments is not handled carefully.

MDC-T insiders said Khupe was unhappy with the new appointments.

Last week, she claimed that Tsvangirai never consulted her over the appointments.

Khupe's supporters view the latest development as tribally inspired. They believe that the elevation of Chamisa and Mudzuri was intended to thwart her ascendance, effectively ruling out any prospect of a Ndebele politician rising within the MDC-T to lead the party at some point.

Tsvangirai is also being accused of parachuting his homeboys to influential positions without allowing the MDC-T membership to do so through the electoral processes.

Both Chamisa and Mudzuri hail from Gutu in Masvingo, which is not far away from Buhera where Tsvangirai was born and bred.

Khupe is not the only one disappointed with the sudden turn of events.

Douglas Mwonzora, the party's national organising secretary, and Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesman, are also said to be seething with anger over the appointments.

Gutu and Mwonzora were conspicuous by their absence on the day Tsvangirai made the announcement.

Gutu has reportedly likened the appointments to a "circus."

Tsvangirai's former legal advisor, Alex Magaisa, has also publicly slated him, accusing his former boss of political naivety.

Debate is also raging within the MDC-T on the legality of the appointments with assertions that they must be ratified or approved at congress due in October next year.

Since its formation in 1999, the MDC-T has experienced two breakaways.

The first split was spearheaded by its then secretary general, Welshman Ncube, who is now leading the MDC.

In 2014, the party suffered its second breakaway, engineered by Tendai Biti, then its secretary general.

Tsvangirai has been under increasing pressure to set a transitional path after being diagnosed with colon cancer.

His loyalists are adamant that the elevation of Mudzuri and Chamisa will stabilise the MDC-T as the country heads towards the 2018 polls.

They also claim that the appointments would fend off vultures that were circling around the MDC-T leader's throne in the wake of his battle with cancer.

"By appointing the two vice presidents, Tsvangirai is defusing the possibility of a coalition (of rivals building) around Khupe, thus remaining the only source of power," said an MDC-T insider.

But not everyone agrees.

Tsvangirai's critics argued this week that the MDC-T leader has pressed the self-destruction button by surrounding himself with rivals.

Chamisa, Mudzuri and Khupe have, although they deny it, previously been linked to plots meant to unseat the MDC-T leader.

"I see this backfiring as it is likely to further fracture the party. Imagine how Mwonzora who beat Chamisa (during internal polls) felt to wake up having the former organising secretary as his boss. What does this development mean to internal party democracy?" said a source within the MDC-T.

Mwonzora beat Chamisa for the post of organising secretary at the last elective congress held in Harare in 2014.

Brighton Musonza, a staunch MDC-T supporter based in the United Kingdom, said Tsvangirai's machinations were clumsy.

"It is not systematic. In the end, he has two VPs from one province (Masvingo). A transitional committee would have presided over the procedure with Tsvangirai... intervening if there was a crisis and not make utilateral decisions," said Musonza.

"If it turns nasty he won't be able to evoke any of his authority because he has already used it. It should have been an impersonal decision and him making announcements or spokesperson speaking on behalf of that (transitional) committee."

Ricky Mukonza, a political analyst, said Tsvangirai made a bad move and, if anything, these developments would perpetuate the notion that he is a dictator and thus dilute the pedigree of the appointees as credible successors.

"My thoughts were that Tsvangirai was going to use this opportunity to unite all the factions in MDC in preparation for the 2018 elections. This would have given him a better legacy in the democratic movement," he said.

Source: Financial Gazette.