Battle to succeed Tsvangirai is real; and it is on

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THE race to succeed ailing MDC-T leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, is open to everyone as there are no constitutional provisions stating that one of his deputies should take over, a senior party official said yesterday.

The MDC-T leader on 8 January, hinted at a possible early retirement from active politics since his disclosure in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the colon.

The hint by Mr Tsvangirai has resulted in serious jockeying within the embattled party as factions position themselves to succeed the MDC-T leader.The party reportedly has two factions led by Mr Tsvangirai’s deputies, Dr Thokozani Khupe and Mr Nelson Chamisa. The third deputy president, Engineer Elias Mudzuri, has also thrown his hat in the succession race with party insiders indicating that secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora may also spring a surprise.

The MDC-T national chairperson, Mr Lovemore Moyo, however, said Mr Tsvangirai was yet to communicate to party structures that he was unable to carry on and thus remains their leader.

“Tsvangirai has not told his party and structures that he is unable to carry on so we cannot talk about succession at the moment. In the event that he is incapacitated or declares that he is unwilling to carry on then the constitution will guide us in electing the next leader,” he said.

Mr Moyo said the party’s constitution provides that should Mr Tsvangirai step down, one of the deputies takes over on an interim basis not exceeding a year.

“A congress is then held where the people choose their preferred candidate to take over. The constitution doesn’t say that one of the deputies automatically takes over the presidency but that the congress convenes and in the event that Tsvangirai steps down, the race is open for anyone to contest for the presidency. The succession issue arises when there is a vacancy but for now Tsvangirai remains our president and there is no vacancy,” he said.

The infighting within MDC-T, according to reports, has led to senior party leaders snubbing crucial party meetings, most recently, the national standing committee meeting chaired by acting president, Eng Mudzuri.

The organ has in turn reportedly given Mr Moyo and Dr Khupe an ultimatum to attend the meetings or face the chop.

Mr Moyo, however, said his absence from the meeting was not due to the factional fights within the race to succeed Mr Tsvangirai.

“I don’t know about Khupe but my absence is due to the fact that I was engaged elsewhere. There are members who have failed to attend meetings before and gave reasons for their absence,” he said.