MDC-T congress: Jostling intensifies for party's top positions

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will hold its third elective national congress at the end of this month and jostling for positions has intensified.

MDC-T insiders revealed on Friday that party president Tsvangirai and his combative secretary-general Tendai Biti would not be opposed at the congress, which is set to take place from April 30 to May 1 in Bulawayo.

However, other top officials are expected to face stiff challenges. Elias Mudzuri, the party’s national organising secretary, told journalists in Harare on Thursday that the party would conduct provincial elections from this weekend in preparation for the congress, the theme of which is United, Winning – The People’s Covenant to Real Change.  

"The theme has been chosen because the MDC is a party of excellence that has been winning elections and fighting to bring real change to the people of Zimbabwe," said Mudzuri.

"The party has drafted a code of conduct that will guide the holding of elections. Under the code, vote buying, violence, defamation, intimidation, tribalism, nepotism and other misdemeanours are liable for disciplinary action. This will limit discohesion in the structures."

Mudzuri said the party has set gender equality as a priority to ensure that competent female leadership was elected at every level of the party.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is expected to be the guest of honour at the congress.

Other political parties from across Africa, international socialist and labour organisations are expected to attend.

The MDC Youth and Women’s Assemblies will also hold their separate congresses in Bulawayo on April 29. The party has so far completed elections in more than 12 000 branches, 1 985 wards and 210 districts in the 12 administrative provinces.

Provincial elections will be held this weekend in Chitungwiza, Midlands North, Mashonaland West, Masvingo and Harare.

Next weekend elections will be held in Mashonaland Central, Midlands South, Bulawayo, Manicaland, Matabeleland North, Mashonaland East and Matabeleland South.

Mudzuri, the former minister of energy and power development, is facing a challenge from his deputy Morgan Komichi, a veteran trade unionist who once worked for the country’s power utility, Zesa.

Party deputy president Thokozani Khupe, who is also the deputy prime minister, is being challenged by Thabita Khumalo.

Water Resources Development Minister Simon Sipepa-Nkomo, Norman Mabhena, a member of the party’s national executive committee and the former women’s wing chairwoman Lucia Matibenga, who controversially lost her position to the co-Minister of Home Affairs, Theresa Makone, were all said to be interested in the national chairman’s post.

Glen View South legislator Paul Madzore, who is also the chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs and defence, is said to be vying for the Harare provincial chairmanship, a development that would see him clashing with non-constituency Senator Morgan Femai.

The MDC-T’s deputy secretary-general Tapuwa Mashakada, who is Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, was also said to be safe for now as no one is canvassing support to take the post.

Makone was said to be facing a stiff challenge from the MDC-T chief whip in the Senate and Mabutweni lawmaker Gladys Dube.

Mkoba lawmaker Amos Chibaya confirmed that he would be vying for the national youth assembly chairman’s post at congress in a bid to unseat Thamsanqa Mahlangu, while Chisipite Senator Obert Gutu was said to be eying the national spokesman’s position. – Sunday Times