Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
SACKED Bulawayo deputy mayor Mr Gift Banda has reportedly been added to the list of contenders to replace the late MDC-T senator Victor Mapungwana in the Senate as pressure mounts on party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
Insiders said the party held a meeting in Harare on Monday where a faction led by MDC-T vice president Thokozani Khupe pressured Mr Tsvangirai for a last minute inclusion of Mr Banda’s name on the list of contenders.
Mr Banda who is the MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson declined nomination for the position during a recent party meeting arguing that he needed to fight his recent sacking from the Bulawayo City Council over allegations of corruption.
Party sources said the last minute inclusion of Mr Banda’s name was part of a spirited campaign by Ms Khupe led faction to block the appointment of national executive member Mr Gideon Shoko considered a front runner to replace Mapungwana in the senate.
“During Monday’s meeting, Ms Khupe and her allies pressured Mr Tsvangirai to include Banda on the list of those to be considered for the Senatorial post. This was done to frustrate Shoko’s chances of being appointed by Mr Tsvangirai,” a source said.
The others on the list are Dr Mandla Nyathi and provincial spokesperson Mr Mandla Sibanda.
“Initially the Khupe faction backed Nyathi but he was disqualified because he falls under the UK branch leaving the race between Shoko and Sibanda. It was clear Shoko was going to be an automatic appointment because of his seniority in the party and close relations with Mr Tsvangirai,” said and MDC-T source.
“To counter that the Khupe group insisted that Banda should be on the list, a scenario that creates a bit of a headache for Tsvangirai as he is close to both Banda and Shoko. Tsvangirai said he will go through the list of nominations before making his appointment.”
Insiders said Mr Tsvangirai said after making the appointment, he would forward the name to the party’s secretary general, Mr Douglas Mwonzora, to write to Senate President Edna Madzongwe notifying her of Mapungwana’s replacement.
MDC-T national spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu was not reachable last night as his mobile phone rang continuously without being answered.
His deputy, Ms Thabitha Khumalo confirmed that names were submitted for appointment but could not be drawn into commenting about the inclusion of Mr Banda. “The names have been submitted by Bulawayo for transmission to the president so that he makes the appointment,” she said.