MDC VP appointments divide opinion

HARARE - The appointments of Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri last week as MDC vice presidents to add to Thokozani Khupe has created a lot of debate among political and social commentators with some who view it as the best way to strengthen the party ahead of the 2018 elections while others feel they (the appointments) were contrary to the party’s constitution.

Political commentator Mcdonald Lewanika said the two additions are great organisers in their own rights and ordinarily that should bode well for the parties’ abilities to get organised and organise on the ground.

“It is however, a top heavy structure triplicating the role of deputising one president. The challenge is that when the same or similar responsibilities are given to too many people, it is possible that no one eventually takes responsibility.”

Lewanika said a lot depends on role allocation within this expanded MDC presidency and also how this new leadership will reconcile disgruntled elements also within the leadership who may feel that the elevation of Chamisa and Mudzuri is a statement to them on their own ability. “So instead of galvanising the party and strengthening it structurally there is a danger that some leaders and their supporters may “resign” and say the president felt we couldn’t get the job done, so let’s see what those he has confidence in can do, or they may resist.

“Both scenarios are bad for the party’s 2018 preparations and made worse by the seemingly undemocratic nature within which the senior appointments were made. So a lot depends on how the MDC explains this move to the outside world and how they manage it for their inside world.”

Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu believes the MDC is managing internal succession issues and this is pragmatic move by Tsvangirai as it ensures leadership sustainability. “This is clear statement that the party is not a one man project.

“The power struggles are inevitable in politics and the hope is that the strong candidate emerges as leader or as the most efficient deputy.”

Playwright Silvanos Mudzvova said: “I am very positive the three VPs will be able to work together using the seniority system and the party clearly pointing out their roles in the presidium. However, if not correctly spelt out it might prove to become a disaster as they will be so many centres of power.”

Media practitioner Tabani Moyo said the appointment can be seen in three main strategic angles. “That Tsvangirai was hoping to contain the levels of rivalry intensity in the party by elevating the influential players in that factional jockeying race for the presidency.

“That the MDC leader has ditched the faction he initially had a latent endorsement for ahead of congress.

“That he has outlined his succession plan and grooming the next president (consciously or otherwise).”

Moyo said in aggregated analysis, “whether the methodology was correct or wrong, this will definitely scale up attrition between the contesting interests. However, one will equally be quick to point out that when making such a decision, his health concerns had a strong bearing on the final decision as he seems to have come up with a campaign team ahead of the elections. What he has done is to select people with the same ambitions as his and hinged their prospective success or failure to his own.”

Human rights activist Dewa Mavhinga said the appointment of Chamisa and Mudzuri to be VPs to join elected VP Khupe is a complex and problematic affair.

“I understand president Tsvangirai’s spokesperson later issued a press statement explaining circumstances and the basis of those appointments, but such a statement should have come before the appointments to reassure party members and the public that the action was both constitutional and democratic.

“Now the party risks yet another split over the appointments. It is problematic to have some people derive authority as appointees and have the same powers with people directly voted into office at Congress, and I am sure both Chamisa and Mudzuri would have felt better deriving their authority directly from elections and not from appointments.”

Mavhinga wondered if these three VPs would be at the same level. “If so, then there could be tensions because Khupe was voted for directly, and Chamisa and Mudzuri were appointed. “So there is a risk that the appointments could be challenged in court as unconstitutional and already the surprise appointments have attracted significant criticism from different quarters.”

He added that even if it can be established that the National Council and party president Tsvangirai had the powers to make the appointments, “it would have been prudent to consider the implications for members elected at congress and for perceptions of democracy and constitutionalism in the party.

“The MDC leadership should ask themselves whether a direct election of the two additional VPs at a Special Congress would have strengthened the party more ahead of 2018 instead of going to appointments route which appears to have generated much controversy.”

Social commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said at a time when the world is moving towards empowering women, Tsvangirai dilutes their power. “

He seems not to appreciate the use of power. Power and position must be used to unite people, not divide or neutralise them.

“A political party needs only one VP and so far Khupe is there. I am sure the constitutional provisions can be applied to replace Khupe if she had been elevated to ‘acting’ president.”

He said the MDC is broke, “so why worsen its fiscal space when the party is facing a more competitive election in 2018? There will be confusion, duplication and rivalry and I’m afraid, he has just thrown the sand into MDC’s 2018 electoral engine.”

Political commentator Blessing Ivan Vava said: “It is an awkward setup in the first place and it seems it is just the politics of accommodation, and says a lot about flawed internal democratic practices in our political parties. It seems Tsvangirai is trying to manage his succession by anointing his preferred candidates without subjecting them to the electoral processes within the MDC.

“And this poses a danger in managing the internal rifts looking at people like Mwoznora for example who defeated Chamisa at the congress and now Chamisa is now Mwonzora’s senior in the party hierarchy.

“It would be interesting how Tsvangirai will manage the disgruntled lot and bring cohesion in his party to avoid another split.”

Media practitioner Nigel Nyamutumbu said Tsvangirai’s appointment of additional VPs to the MDC in a way confirms media reports of a frosty relationship between himself and his long time deputy, Khupe as well as substantiates allegations of growing factionalism within his party.

“Legally, the repercussions of the appointments could potentially be catastrophic and if Tsvangirai does not properly manage the dissenting voices, the party might be headed for a gruesome court battle, which at best could stain the legitimacy of the newly- appointed officials or at worst further spilt the party.

“In a way, Tsvangirai has weighed-in himself in the purported succession race and it possibly will be difficult for Khupe to make any significant contribution in the party’s presidium,” said Nyamutumbu.

He added that as it may, “the appointments could turn out to be strategic politically, especially in the context of reviving the party and vesting such huge responsibility in a young leader like Nelson Chamisa, Tsvangirai could potentially be casting the nets wider for new or otherwise neutral voters come 2018.”

Comments (2)

Tsvangirai's strategy is very clear. Himself and Khupe are on their way out due to poor health. Mudzuri and Chamisa will lead the country however, using Tsvangirai's brand name.

Ziziharinanyanga - 24 July 2016

arwadziwa ngaabude, when tsvanguirai was being brutalised nobody dared a soul, now the road is clean anamafikizolo makuda kunzwika, let Save decide waht the future is for MDC, he knows what he is doing, tokuzivai muripo kungobvongodza muto chete

MARCUS - 24 July 2016

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.