The new executive, which was elected into office on Saturday in Mutare, is expected to send in its nominations as soon as that process begins next week. The only high profile figure who will not be backed by the province is the incumbent organising secretary Elias Mudzuri.
Apparently there is history between Mudzuri and the province. Three years ago, he was allegedly manhandled by party activists in Mutare after reports alleged he was working on undermining Tsvangirai by creating parallel structures opposed to the party leader. Mudzuri faces similar allegations from other pro-Tsvangirai supporters in other provinces.
‘The province unanimously resolved to back everyone else in the standing committee, except Mudzuri. Nelson Chamisa is our preferred candidate for that post. We do not want to rcok the boat at this delicate hour where we are within touching distance of dislodging ZANU PF from power,’ the source said.
The same source alleged that candidates sponsored by Mudzuri’s camp in Mutare were given an ‘electric shock’, evidenced by the sheer number of ‘voters’ who rejected them.
It is believed Tsvangirai, barring any last minute nominations from the floor, will not face any challengers. It is believed that the three MDC-T external provinces, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States led by Kwanele Moyo, Tonderai Samanyanga and Dan Moyo, are behind Tsvangirai.
The three provinces in the southern region, Bulawayo and Matebeleland North and South, are all solidly behind Tsvangirai, despite reports that the party hierarchy might order a re-run in Bulawayo. Elections there that saw Gorden Moyo beat Matson Hlalo, were marred by violence and intimidation.
Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme said Tsvangirai will still be nominated by who ever wins in Bulawayo.
‘The only problem is that of Vice-President because I’m reliably told that while Moyo favours Khupe’s candidature, Hlalo is believed to be supporting a different candidate. But both Hlalo and Moyo support Tsvangirai,’ Saungweme said.
The new chairman for Mashonaland East, Piniel Denga, who is also the MP for Mbare, told us Tsvangirai was their automatic choice for re-election. He said the province has always vouched that Tsvangirai is the best person to finish what the MDC set out to do at its formation.
‘Our goal in 1999 was to bring democracy to Zimbabwe and vote ZANU PF out of power. That has not yet been achieved and as such Tsvangirai will have the mandate from Mashonaland East province to finish that job,’ Denga said, adding the province will convene a meeting this week to look at the other nominations.
‘If there are to be other considerations, we will sit down as an executive as I was informed today (Tuesday) that our nomination paper is ready for collection,’ Denga added.
The eagerly awaited congress will see a number of candidates challenging members in the standing committee, the top decision making body of the party. The congress will be held under the theme ‘United, Winning – The People’s Covenant to Real Change.’
Those considered safe, even if challenged, are Vice-President of the party Thokozani Khupe, national Chairman Lovemore Moyo and Secretary-General Tendai Biti. A rising star in the party, Obert Gutu the deputy Minister of Justice, is reportedly eyeing the party spokesman’s position. Gutu has however made it known he will consider running for the post only if Chamisa has plans to seek another post within the standing committee.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is expected to be the guest of honour at the congress. The MDC Youth and Women’s Assemblies will hold their separate congresses also in Bulawayo on 29th April. The party has so far completed elections in over 12,000 branches, 1 985 wards in 210 districts and is only left with four out of the 12 party provinces. – SW Radio