Tsvangirai to stand uncontested for party leadership

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is set to triumph at his party’s elective congress scheduled for May, as indications from party structures suggest he will garner overwhelming support to retain the Presidency uncontested.\r\n

Tsvangirai’s widespread popularity among the party’s rank and file, along with his gift for engaging ordinary people in large audiences and one-on-one encounters, has earned him huge support from grassroots levels.

Party insiders told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that internal consultations at provincial level appear to suggest the MDC is keen to keep its top leadership team intact. Tsvangirai’s deputy, Thokozani Khupe is also expected to stand unchallenged.

But national party Chairman Lovemore Moyo is expected to fend off a challenge from former Women’s Assembly chair Lucia Matibenga. The third ranking member of the party, Secretary General Tendai Biti, is likely to stand unchallenged.

There are reports linking popular party spokesman Nelson Chamisa with the post of Organising Secretary, though the Kuwadzana MP flatly denied he was interested in the post.

SW Radio Africa on Wednesday managed to get the names of the officials standing for positions in the upcoming congress, as well as the positions they are being linked with. Biti’s deputy Tapiwa Mashakada is poised to retain his post, while Chamisa, former director of elections Dennis Murira and incumbent Elias Mudzuri are likely to fight a pitched battle for the Organising Secretary’s position.

Treasurer general Roy Bennett is considered safe to hold on to his post, together with his deputy Elton Mangoma. There could be an intriguing battle for the control of the Women’s Assembly, wheere Senate chief whip, Gladys Dube Gombani is set to throw her hat in the ring against Theresa Makone.

If Chamisa decides to move up the ladder, his post is likely to be contested by two rising party stars, Obert Gutu and Tongai Matutu, both Deputy Ministers in the unity government.

Chamisa on Wednesday defended the current leadership, when he said at no point in time is the party intending to change the winning team, which spearheaded ZANU PF’s electoral defeat two years ago.

“When you have a winning team in any struggle you don’t seek to weaken it by trying to make unnecessary changes. All we need to do is strengthen it making sure that we buttress its pillars,” the party spokesman said.

Pressed to confirm whether he had set his sights on any other position in the party’s decision making organ, the standing committee, Chamisa answered with a big ‘no’.

“It has really been speculation but I think I’ve saved the party loyally in terms of the position I occupy. I’ve no intention of taking any other position, but of course people may decide otherwise,” Chamisa said.

He added: “The party has a lot of respect for our organising secretary (Mudzuri) for the great work he has done since the split (2005). We have emerged from that stronger, better, mightier and even more electable. So why change things?”

“Belonging to the MDC is about values, beliefs and principles. All we want is to show we are ready to govern. We want real power for real change and this leadership team is the ultimate key to unlock that entry into a new Zimbabwe,” Chamisa continued.

Chamisa’s words were echoed by Tsvangirai on Tuesday, who told senior party officials and staff at his home, marking his return to office after his annual leave that, Zimbabweans must ready themselves for far-reaching changes in 2011.

He said the forthcoming congress shall mark the beginning of the MDC’s renewal as the party gears itself for the total control of the government after the next elections.