OPPOSITION MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has reportedly outfoxed his rivals in the party forcing organisers to twist the party’s congress rules to allow former rebels like former secretary generals Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube to contest for positions at the party’s elective indaba.
While the draft congress template seen by NewZimbabwe.com and prepared by the party’s organising department requires those contesting for position from ward to national level to have served in the party and an immediate lower structure for five years, returnees Biti and Ncube have had this waivered.
Ncube and Biti served as secretary generals of the MDC before breaking away in 2005 and 2014 respectively to form their own parties. A faction of the MDC reportedly supporting current secretary general Douglas Mwonzora’s candidature is fighting valiantly to stop Biti and others who at some point left the party from contesting at this congress arguing their return should be rubber-stamped by congress first.
“For one to be eligible to be elected into a particular organ they must have served in a leadership position in the immediate lower organ or that organ for a minimum number of years as prescribed,” the template read adding for position from ward to the top someone should have been a member for five years.
Insiders said the draft was discussed at a this week’s national executive meeting but nothing regarding the status of those who joined the party through the MDC Alliance a loose pre-election pact put together last year had been brought up for debate.
“Its sneaky. In fact we need to have the union created by the alliance to be endorsed by congress. It means effectively Biti and Welshman as well as their supporters are not yet full members of the party. They still have their parties until such time the MDC congress has given its thumbs up to the merger,” NewZimbabwe.com heard.
But party spokesperson Jacob Mafume argued otherwise and indicated there was no need for a waiver.
“It sets a dangerous precedence to call this a waiver. It is not. This is a situation in which different parties have merged. Just as no one from the MDC has been told that their membership will start now or after congress, the same applies to former members of the People’s Democratic Party.
“This is a like a company merger and one cannot wake up and claim that workers coming from another subsidiary have had their years of service wiped away,” said Mafume.
“The history of the people joining the MDC has been considered and there is no need to amend even the congress template.”
The template also suggests the MDC wants to avoid contestation at all costs by resorting to what it calls a policy of consensus.
“Only approved candidates are allowed to go to consensus process consensus first. If consensus fails the approved candidates will go for elections,” the rules show adding the elective congress will follow the secret ballot method.
Chamisa is reportedly set to go head to head with Mwonzora in the race to lead the country’s biggest opposition at the congress set for May 24. Already threats have been issued against “anyone intending to contest Chamisa” from the youth assembly.
Other leading figures Biti and vice president Morgen Komichi have also indicated they would be unhappy if the 41 year-old lawyer is challenged.
Chamisa lost to Mwonzora at the party’s 2014 congress in a grueling fight for the position of secretary general before founding leader the late Morgan Tsvangirai appointed the then Kuwadzana East legislator as vice president.