Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai has hand-picked Mr Nelson Chamisa and Engineer Elias Mudzuri as his deputies, ostensibly to ease political pressure after he was diagnosed with cancer of the colon in South Africa recently.
Effectively, MDC-T now has three vice presidents as the two join Ms Thokozani Khupe who had always been Mr Tsvangirai’s second in command.
Prior to their appointment, Messrs Chamisa and Mudzuri were mere national executive members after they failed to make it into the standing committee at the party’s last congress.
Mr Chamisa lost to Mr Douglas Mwonzora in his bid to land the secretary-general’s post.
He, however, remained influential and his appointment together with that of Eng Mudzuri has also been interpreted as a way of containing growing factionalism by Mr Tsvangirai.
The move is likely to anger other senior party officials such as national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo, his deputy Mr Morgan Komichi and Mr Mwonzora who might feel overlooked.
Party spokesman Mr Obert Gutu took to his Facebook page saying: “As the MDC-T national spokesperson, kindly be advised that I have absolutely NO comments to make on the appointments for the office of vice president that were announced at a press conference in Harare on Friday, July 15, 2016. I refer all questions and/or queries to president Morgan Tsvangirai.’’
Some argued that the new appointments negated regional balance of power as all the deputies have their roots in Masvingo.
Mr Chamisa is from Gutu while Eng Mudzuri comes from Zaka.
Although Ms Khupe comes from Matabeleland North, her mother is from Masvingo.
Mr Tsvangirai told reporters while flanked by his wife Ms Elizabeth Macheka and his spokesperson, Mr Luke Tamborinyoka, at his Highlands lodgings yesterday that the party’s national council had directed him to make the new appointments.
The national executive is the MDC-T’s highest decision-making organ between congresses.
“In line with the directive given to me by the national council yesterday, I have now appointed (Hon) Nelson Chamisa and (Hon) Elias Mudzuri as vice presidents of the party,” he said.
“The two will join (Hon) Thokozani Khupe in assisting me in the execution of my responsibilities and preparing the party for the next election.”
In his address, Mr Tsvangirai also defended recent illegal demonstrations fronted by some shadowy organisations such as #Tajamuka and #ThisFlag which were aimed at destabilising the country.
Mr Tamborinyoka later told The Herald that Mr Tsvangirai was empowered by the party’s constitution to make such appoint- ments.
Said Mr Tamborinyoka: “The party constitution was amended at the last congress and he (Mr Tsvangirai) is empowered to make such appointments. The national council met yesterday and he is exercising his powers in terms of the constitution and in line with the directive of the national council.”
Asked on the rationale of having three deputies with roots from the same region and the idea of containing factionalism, Mr Tamborinyoka said: “President Tsvangirai does not care where people come from. He looks at the job that needs to be done and your capacities. Where you come from does not matter and it is his discretion to do so. He knows what he wants to do ahead of 2018 elections and the three deputies unlike in Zanu-PF will not be using taxpayer’s money.
“I am sure you are mistaking MDC for Zanu-PF. The words factions and factionalism have taken a permanent residence in Zanu-PF and it will be mischievous for The Herald to try and relocate it in MDC.”
MDC-T sources yesterday said the move by Mr Tsvangirai was a recipe for disaster.
“This came as a shocker to everyone,” said the source.
“Imagine these people were rejected at congress and are being plucked from the political doldrums to the helm of the party?
“What do you think other leaders in the party hierarchy will say after this? After all, it is clear that his favourite is (Mr) Chamisa and working with Mai Khupe is going to be difficult because he would want his ego to be felt while Mai Khupe would argue that she has always been senior.”