- Published on 22 July 2014
- Written by Newsday
THE opposition MDC-T, in a move reminiscent of the Zanu PF organogram, is reportedly planning to elevate its leader Morgan Tsvangirai to president and first secretary of the party to ensure he has firm control of the party.
President Robert Mugabe has been both Zanu PF president and secretary since the 1970s.
MDC-T insiders said the new post was among a raft of other proposed constitutional changes likely to guide the party's elective congress to be held in October this year.
"The real issue is to silence and remove powers from the secretary-general [SG] given what has happened in the past. There are still consultations over that, but the likelihood is that Tsvangirai will have to take the responsibility of the party's day-to-day operations as president and first secretary like what [Zanu PF leader President Robert] Mugabe is to Zanu PF," said an MDC-T source.
"What Tsvangirai and his loyalists are saying is that under the current constitution, the SG's post was competing with that of the president. They see this as the reason for some sort of stability in Zanu PF because they used to have the same problem during the days of Edgar Tekere as secretary-general," the source said.
But party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the matter was still under discussion and the congress would follow what would have been agreed and factored into the amended constitution.
Mwonzora yesterday said the party was yet to receive nominations ahead of congress adding that the system this time would see people nominating their preferred choices.
Sources said Tsvangirai, who has survived two rebellions from his secretary generals – Welshman Ncube in 2005 and Tendai Biti this year – wanted all administrative powers to be centred around him just as Mugabe has done in Zanu PF.
Said Mwonzora: "Nominations are yet to come to us and so far we don't
know. The system will be different from the last ones where individuals expressed desires to contest. Now its nomination-based, meaning a person has to be nominated for a post."
He added that the secretary-general would, however, remain powerful though with his job description and terms of reference clearly spelt out to avoid clashes with the party president.
"We want to remove vagueness and ensure that the secretary-general is not a co-president like what was happening. There are people who are confusing what they want and what will happen. The amendments will be debated fully and finalised," Mwonzora said.
On proposals to introduce two vice-presidents, Mwonzora said party officials were still not yet agreed over the matter.
"That will depend on what people want. There are two arguments, the first is to align the constitution to that of the country and the second is to continue with one VP, the two will be debated," Mwonzora said.
On other positions not to be elected at congress, the former Nyanga North MP said: "That has always been the case that the Standing Committee is elected at congress and other posts are appointed by National Council and the president. That is continuing for those positions unless there is a constitutional change. The proposals will be tabled.
"We might have the secretary-general not directly elected at congress unlike the other years if proposals brought are anything to go by."
As a result of the proposed sweeping constitutional changes, dozens of senior party leaders who were eyeing the secretary-general's post were now reportedly eyeing the second vice-presidency.
Sources said current MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson Mwonzora and vice-chairperson Morgen Komichi were among party officials eyeing the post of second vice-president while Thokozani Khupe would remain first vice-president.
The sources added that the positions of president, two vice-presidents, chairperson and vice-chairperson, women assembly and youth assembly chairpersons would be contested at congress.
Candidates for the posts of secretary-general, organising secretary, treasurer-general and spokesperson would be selected by the party's national council or national executive if the proposals are adopted.
Lovemore Moyo is said to be eyeing his chairperson position and was unlikely to be challenged.
Current Women Assembly boss Theresa Makone is believed to be eyeing the treasurer-general position while Charlton Hwende, a known Tsvangirai loyalist, is seeking to deputise her.
Former Labour minister Paurina Mpariwa is reportedly eyeing the Women Assembly post where she is likely to face a stiff challenge from Sibusisiwe Bhuda-Masara the current women's assembly secretary-general and former Chimanimani MP Lynnette Karenyi.
MDC-T returnee Job Sikhala is being tipped to take over the national organising secretary's post with former Justice Deputy minister Obert Gutu, Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya and former youth assembly president Thamsanga Mahlangu reportedly interested in the same post.
Harare Central MP Murisi Zwizwai is also said to be eyeing the national organising secretary post.