HARARE,– Ailine Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has not anointed any one of his three deputies to take over his position and is simply delegating authority to any one of them to act in his absence, says his spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka.
Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) who is battling cancer of the colon and is reportedly in critical condition in South Africa, on Tuesday appointed one of the party’s three vice presidents, Nelson Chamisa, to take over as acting party president as well as to represent him in the MDC Alliance, until his return.
The three deputies, Chamisa, Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe are locked in a battle to succeed the veteran politician who has led the opposition party since its formation in 1999.
At the time he left for South Africa, Tsvangirai had appointed Mudzuri as the acting president of the party while Chamisa would chair the MDC Alliance, a coalition of opposition parties formed in preparation for the general election due later this year.
Tuesday’s announcement caused a furore in the opposition party, with cracks and factions which have been simmering for a while intensifying through attacks and counter-attacks on social media.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu earlier Thursday had rubbished the statement issued on behalf of Tsvangirai by Tamborinyoka that Chamisa was now the acting president.
“I have just been authoritatively advised that Hon. Elias Mudzuri is still the acting president of the MDC’T,” Gutu tweeted.
A letter purportedly nullifying the Tuesday position also circulated on social media. In response, Tamborinyoka held an urgent press conference restating and insisting that Chamisa was the acting opposition party leader.
“Acting president Chamisa has already assumed his duties, albeit in an acting capacity as directed by the president. He has addressed the Parliamentary caucus and as we speak is addressing the (party’s) provincial chairpersons,” he said.
Tamborinyoka said Tsvangirai remained ‘unwell but stable’ while describing people haggling over the leadership of the party as ‘political vultures’.
He said the appointments were in an acting capacity, adding that the ‘stampede in the cockpit is needless and unnecessary’.
Tamborinyoka said the purported letter nullifying the Tuesday position was fraudulent.
In a later response which was apparently aimed at Tamborinyoka, Gutu tweeted, “The truth shall, as usual, set me free. I’m not captured. I always stick to principles. I hereby stand by and reiterate what I posted earlier on this platform. I have got absolutely nothing to fear.”
— BERNAMA-NNN-NEW ZIANA