MDC-T’s succession drama continued to unfold yesterday, with two of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s deputies claiming interim leadership of the opposition party.
The protagonists in that drama are Advocate Nelson Chamisa and Engineer Elias Mudzuri, who both claim to have Mr Tsvangirai’s blessings to be party acting president.
Last week, Eng Mudzuri rushed to Mr Tsvangirai’s bedside in Johannesburg, South Africa after Adv Chamisa was purportedly pronounced interim opposition leader.
Eng Mudzuri, who had been acting in Mr Tsvangirai’s stead since his boss was admitted for cancer treatment in South Africa, insisted he still held the reins.
Sources said yesterday that Eng Mudzuri and some members of the Tsvangirai family had lied that Mr Tsvangirai wanted Eng Mudzuri to continue as party acting president.
The sources claimed Mr Tsvangirai’s health had deteriorated to a point where he could no longer speak, casting doubts on Eng Mudzuri’s version of the hospital meeting.
Mr Tsvangirai’s wife, Elizabeth, said: “My apologies; unfortunately I am not in a position to respond to your questions at this point in time as I am concentrating with (sic) my husband.”
Adv Chamisa was not reachable for comment.
Eng Mudzuri told The Sunday Mail: “I was called by the president and he made it clear to me that I remain in charge while he is away.
“I remain the acting president and nothing has changed.
“Who is responsible for appointing the acting president?
“It is the president himself and that is what has happened. Nothing has changed and that is what he told me. As the acting president, it is my duty to unite the party and work well with others.”
But an insider said: “There are going to be fireworks when Mudzuri comes back to Harare.
“He is going to be in office (tomorrow). I see the fights turning ugly because both he and Chamisa have their supporters. There is likely to be disciplinary action by both parties; persecution of each other.”
According to the sources, Eng Mudzuri enjoys support from Mr Tsvangirai’s relatives, some of whom are receiving rentals from the former’s sympathisers.
“Mudzuri is close to the family members and was invited to the hospital by a lady by the name Bryline.
“I doubt very much that he spoke to Tsvangirai because his health has deteriorated to the extent that he is incapacitated to make any important decisions.”
Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Mr Luke Tamborinyoka, upped the ante yesterday, insisting Adv Chamisa was the legitimate acting party president.
In a statement, he said: “Acting president Hon Advocate Nelson Chamisa today addressed the Zvimba East district structure and presented a summary of the party’s policy programme to improve people’s lives after the election.
“. . . Hon Chamisa lauded the Mashonaland West provincial executive for implementing the consensus approach in candidate selection in line with the directive given by president Tsvangirai.
“Next week, the MDC acting president will meet minorities and engage other critical sectors ahead of the next election, including civic groups and women’s organisations, among others.”
Mr Tsvangirai’s former advisor, Mr Alex Magaisa, said the opposition was facing its worst crisis yet.
He wrote on his blog: “The current situation is typically what constitutions are designed to cover when they include incapacitation as a ground upon which a president can be removed from office.
“It is also recognised that when a leader becomes incapacitated, the unscrupulous around him can use their proximity to take advantage of him.
“The behaviour of people around Tsvangirai suggests that he is now being taken advantage of by those claiming to represent his best interests.
“The public is no longer sure who is telling the truth.”