Zvamaida Murwira/Nqobile Tshili, Harare Bureau/Chronicle Correspondent
THE embattled opposition MDC-T yesterday inched closer to a monumental split with co-vice presidents Engineer Elias Mudzuri and Dr Thokozani Khupe boycotting the opposition party’s standing committee meeting convened by vice president Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
Eng Mudzuri and Dr Khupe vowed to convene a parallel standing committee meeting today.
MDC-T national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo, who of late has been playing low key, also boycotted yesterday’s meeting.
There is a serious fight in the MDC-T over who succeeds ailing party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who is in a South African hospital battling cancer of the colon.
Yesterday’s meeting was attended by more than half of the members.
Adv Chamisa has also called for an extraordinary national executive and national council meeting set for tomorrow (Thursday) which according to sources is expected to endorse him as acting president of the party.
The MDC-T co-vice presidents are fighting over who is acting president.
Both Adv Chamisa and Eng Mudzuri claim to be acting president.
This come as the MDC-T youth assembly convened a press conference soon after holding a meeting with Adv Chamisa where they attacked party spokesperson, Mr Obert Gutu, who of late has aligned himself with Eng Mudzuri.
In an interview yesterday, Eng Mudzuri said he had called for a standing committee meeting today but slammed Adv Chamisa for calling a parallel meeting yesterday.
“I have called for a standing committee meeting to be held tomorrow (Wednesday) but Chamisa counter-called for the same meeting today. I am the one with the mandate to call for such a meeting as acting president. He is just being mischievous. My vision is to unite the party as mandated to me by president Tsvangirai and my wish is to ensure the attendance of everyone including Dr Khupe who has not been attending such meetings,” said Eng Mudzuri.
He said there was a need for a neutral person to mediate the dispute.
“I will soon be calling for a mediator to find common ground because we want the party to remain united. We cannot continue to have this,” said Eng Mudzuri.
Adv Chamisa said tomorrow’s meeting would end the current bickering in the party.
“We want to get over this bickering and concentrate on building the party and prepare for general elections. The national council, which is an organ in-between congress in terms of the party’s constitution, will put an end to this whole issue. It will define the future of the party. All these issues are now set to be solved on Thursday. The national council is the decision-making organ in between congress,” said Adv Chamisa.
Earlier, the two protagonists had escalated their bickering with blistering statements denigrating each other.
In his hard hitting statement, Eng Mudzuri described Adv Chamisa as too ambitious and trying to usurp power.
He accused Mr Chamisa and his lieutenants of trying to hijack the MDC-T through organising unsanctioned meetings to prop the lawyer as its de-facto leader.
“The shenanigans of fast-tracking Standing Committee, National Executive and National Council meetings by the self-appointed Nelson Chamisa and those who want immediate power at all costs at the expense of unity, constitutionalism and due process and in the absence of free and fair process to democratically make decisions cannot be tolerated or condoned by any right thinking Zimbabwean,” said Eng Mudzuri.
He said he was ready to take drastic measures to keep the party united.
“I will not be drawn into dog fights with my colleagues. No amount of vilification or denigration or provocation will draw me into any exchanges or activities that will tear our dear party apart or derail the people’s hope for a better future. I will not betray my president who has so much faith and trust in me. I am prepared to make sacrifices to keep the MDC-T united and alive. That is the only way.”
Eng Mudzuri said he was not power hungry and if a vacancy arises in the party’s presidency, democratic processes would be followed in electing a new leader.
“When the time comes that there is a vacancy in the presidency, everyone who wishes will have the opportunity to present themselves to the people who will make their choice. I will respect that choice and lend all my support to him/her,” he said.
In a counter statement, Mr Chamisa hit back at Eng Mudzuri defiantly saying he was in charge of the MDC-T with party structures supporting him.
“I’m overwhelmed by the support from all the party structures & organs in all the provinces. Also dealing with the noise from the cockpit! We will be meeting as leadership to find each other and iron out any differences. It is just a must!” Mr Chamisa posted on his Twitter account.
“We shall not be moved by irritating noise and misplaced criticism. We shall not resist good ideas and good advice. President Tsvangirai has given us the charge, vision and direction. We shall lead and we must inspire.”
Meanwhile, MDC-T national youth national chairperson Happymore Chidziva launched an attack on Mr Gutu accusing him of misrepresenting the party position.
Mr Chidziva said the national youth assembly had issued a warning to Mr Gutu that he risked disciplinary action for his conduct.
They laid several allegations of misdemeanour against him.
Mr Gutu declined to comment yesterday saying he was in a meeting.