The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has been thrown in turmoil following news that party leader Nelson Chamisa has postponed next year’s proposed congress from March to October.
Party spokesman Jacob Mafume said the congress would be held between October and December next year but secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora was surprised by this.
Chamisa took over when Morgan Tsvangirai died of cancer in February this year and the party said this was only for a year, pending congress.
Thokozani Khupe, the only elected vice-president of the party, had called for an extra-ordinary congress before the elections held on 30 July this year and broke away keeping the MDC-T name when Chamisa refused to hold a congress saying the national standing committee had selected him.
Chamisa now claims he was left the mantle by Tsvangirai so those aspiring to lead the party must let him complete his task first and then pass on the mantle.
Mafume said dirty money from the rival Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was being used to divide the MDC.
“There is dirty money circulating … we know all this and some are now campaigning, but these are premature campaigns,” he told the Daily News.
“The fact is, the date for our congress is between October to December next year. We had our last congress in 2014, so the congress is not due yet by any imagination.
“We know that there are some people who are being sponsored by ZANU-PF to destabilise the party through early congress calls.”
Mwonzora was surprised, telling the Daily News: “Is this what Mafume said? Let me check with him and I will come back to you.”
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said Chamisa might be afraid he will lose the leadership of the party.
“When you postpone something, it suggests a lack of preparedness … which can include inadequate resources. It can also mean that he doesn’t have enough confidence to conquer his rivals. He may need more time to prepare … and may also want to consolidate his popular base before the congress.
“But he is suffering from legitimacy deficit which he is accusing Mnangagwa of. He is also feeling that pressure from his own party,” Masunungure told the Daily News.
Maxwell Saungweme, said: “A democrat would not want to stay in power a day longer without due electoral process and a mandate from the party members. I think pushing the dates as he did is meant to achieve two things. The first one is to completely change party structures and get rid of people like Mudzuri and Mwonzora who are being touted as potential challengers.
“Secondly, the idea could be to align his elected term with national elections. Our next general elections are in 2023 and then 2028. So, his move could be to ensure that he remains an undoubted Alliance presidential candidate for both 2023 and 2028. If he is elected Alliance president at the end of 2019, it means his first term ends in 2024 and his second term ends in 2029.
“This means 2023 and 2028 are covered. He will be the Alliance president during both elections. This has hallmarks of a lack of democracy, in a political outfit founded on the need for democracy in our national governance.”