Back-off! Tsvangirai warns warring loyalists

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HARARE – MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has counselled his impatient lieutenants who are already looking beyond him that he is still in charge and that his successor will only come through proper party processes.

Speaking through his spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai who is expected home this week from South Africa where he had gone for his routine medical check-up, said those who are looking at succeeding him should “hold their horses”.

“…Tsvangirai is still in office and he will not allow what is happening, especially those who are already in the post-Tsvangirai mode,” said Tamborinyoka.

“If they are mischievous people who are already discussing his health, then they should follow the internal and constitutional processes; if they are political vultures who are lurking in the shadows they should stop what they are doing.”

Tamborinyoka said succession should not be an issue that the country’s biggest opposition party should be seized with at the moment.

He said the party’s constitution and internal processes should be followed by those who think it is an issue.

“Remember…Tsvangirai is a stickler to democracy and he will not impose any candidate. Now those vultures should hold their horses,” said Tamborinyoka.

There is presently a raging factional war in the MDC triggered by Tsvangirai’s ill-health.

This follows the former trade unionist’s long battle with cancer of the colon, which has taken him in and out of South Africa on routine medical check-up.

The fights have all along been bubbling under the surface before they exploded into the open after the MDC leader announced that he was considering departing from the political stage, handing the reins to a younger generation.

This prompted ambitious cadres to throw their hats into the ring.

At least three factions have emerged, all gunning for Tsvangirai’s job in the event that he becomes incapacitated.

Tsvangirai’s three deputies –Nelson Chamisa, Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe believe they can fit into his shoes.

A certain section of the MDC is now pressing for an extraordinary congress before national elections that are due mid-year.

Khupe’s camp believes the job should be given to her by virtue of being the only deputy elected at congress while the other two were appointed.

Last week, a close ally of Khupe, Abednico Bhebhe, told our sister paper the Daily News on Sunday that Khupe will have little choice but to quit should Tsvangirai insist on handing over power to either Chamisa or Mudzuri while sidelining his longest serving deputy.

“She (Khupe) is a democrat who believes in constitutionalism and the only way out is for the party to follow the constitution or Khupe will have little option but to step down. She either will insist on following the constitution or she quits rather than being forced to be an accomplice in mutilating the party constitution,” Bhebhe said.

He warned that such a development could lead to another split saying “while that is not desirable, it could be inevitable because at the moment anything is possible”.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News that the majority in the MDC prefer to follow the constitutional route and have a congress.

“If anything happens to the president the only route to take is through a congress and not the imposition of candidates,” said Gutu.

Observers have warned that the party would split if Tsvangirai were to impose his successor.