MDC-T co-vice president Dr Thokozani Khupe yesterday insisted she was the party’s acting president as per the constitution and that anyone claiming the position was violating the rule book.
There is an ugly fight in MDC-T over who succeeds Mr Morgan Tsvangirai who succumbed to cancer of the colon in a South African hospital last week and was buried on Tuesday at his rural home in Buhera.
The internal fights have seen MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu turning his back on the party in which co-vice president Mr Nelson Chamisa has claimed the throne.
The fights manifested at the burial of Mr Tsvangirai where Dr Khupe, secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora and organising secretary Mr Abednigo Bhebhe were assaulted.
The violence received widespread condemnation even from MDC-T associates and sponsors. In a statement yesterday, Dr Khupe was adamant that constitutionally she was the acting MDC-T president, and not Mr Chamisa.
“Following the tragic passing on and the burial of our dear leader president Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, it is important that the party returns to normalcy. This can only be done if the party goes back to its constitution.
It is clear from reading of clause 18.104.22.168 that among other office bearers, the deputy presidents are members of the Standing Committee. However, they have to be elected by congress,” said Dr Khupe.
Messrs Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri were hand-picked by Mr Tsvangirai.
“Clause 9.2 makes provision for the duties of the deputy president. It does not make provisions for the duties of the additional deputy presidents.
The deputy president in clause 9.2 can only be the deputy president elected by congress. Clause 9.21.1 provides that in the event of the death of the president, the deputy president assumes the role of the acting president pending the holding of the extraordinary congress within a year,” said Dr Khupe.
She added: “The deputy president is the deputy president provided for in clause 9.2 that is to say the one elected by congress.
There is therefore no role of the national council to elect an acting president because this is already provided for in the constitution. To that end I am the acting president of the MDC-T as provided for in both clauses 9.2 and clause 9.21.1 of the constitution.”
Dr Khupe said any other process that sought to circumvent the operation of the constitution was null and void.
“Therefore as acting president I make the following orders: (a) That an extraordinary congress to elect a substantive president of the party should be held within a month.
To that end, the secretary general is ordered in terms of clause 9.5.1 to ensure that the extraordinary congress is convened. (b)That the standing committee of the party shall convene immediately and at any rate (date) not later than Friday the 23rd of February 2018, (c) that disciplinary action be carried out against all the leaders behind violence that occurred during Dr Tsvangirai’s funeral.”
Mr Chamisa yesterday referred The Herald to Mr Jameson Timba, the spokesperson for the executive in the MDC-T. Mr Timba argued that Mr Chamisa, Eng Mudzuri and Dr Khupe were all products of congress.
He dismissed Dr Khupe’s assertions saying: “Because there are three deputies president, only one can act as president for 12 months. In that regard, the national council made a determination and filled a void by selecting one of the three to act for 12 months.
The national council is empowered to do so by our constitution. In this regard it selected Honourable Nelson Chamisa to act for 12 months. There is no specific provision in our constitution which treats the three VPs differently.
They are at par and only one can be selected to act for 12 months. Our council can and has met as congress to conduct and finish the business of congress so the appointment of the other VPs was done when the national council was sitting as congress therefore the three VPs are a product of congress.”
Mr Timba also explained it differently.
“On the 7th of February the president of our party, the late Dr Tsvangirai, may his soul rest in peace, was outside the country. The other two VPs Hon Mudzuri and Khupe were also outside the country and by operation of our constitution, the only deputy president who was in the country was Hon Chamisa and therefore as affirmed by then president Tsvangirai, whether affirmation was there or not, by operation of the constitution, Hon Chamisa was the acting president,” he said.
The Herald is reliably informed that Mr Chamisa is convening a standing committee meeting at Harvest House today. He has also summoned all the provincial and district chairpersons to Harvest House as he flexes his muscle and seal his ascendance to power. It is anticipated that 630 people will attend the meeting.