By Mugove Tafirenyika
Acting MDC president Elias Mudzuri and vice president Nelson Chamisa have openly declared that they are gunning to succeed ailing party leader Morgan Tsvangirai should he be incapacitated to run for president in elections scheduled for mid-year.
Last week, Tsvangirai — who is battling cancer of the colon — hinted that he was considering quitting and handing over the reins of power to “the younger generation”.
The announcement, made in a new year’s message just before Tsvangirai flew out of the country for his routine medical checkup in South Africa, triggered jostling for his post among his ambitious deputies Chamisa and Mudzuri.
The other vice president Thokozani Khupe has been mum.
While Tsvangirai is believed to have anointed Chamisa as his preferred candidate, Mudzuri yesterday made it clear that he was ready to step in, in the event that the MDC leader — who is also the MDC Alliance presidential candidate’s health fails him.
“In the unlikely event that he (Tsvangirai) fails, I think you can see that we are able-bodied so one of us should be able to take over and I am also part of that one of us so I should be able to take over,” Mudzuri told journalists after touring banks and industries in Harare’s Southerton area yesterday.
Mudzuri said he was trying hard to emulate Tsvangirai’s way of doing things while he acts on behalf of the former prime minister in the inclusive government that ended in 2013.
“The reason I came here is to do exactly what Tsvangirai would have done, that is coming down to the people to hear for himself. By being asked to act as president, I feel I must do exactly what the people expect from him. I am doing what Morgan would have done.”
Chamisa, told News24 on Wednesday that Tsvangirai remained the party’s “best way forward” but if he was to retire, he would be ready to take over from the veteran politician.
“Tsvangirai remains the icon of the party; he is our mentor and is the face of the party in the coming polls. The party has given him enough time to recuperate and take the party to its glory. But if he steps down, we’re ready to lead,” said Chamisa.
“We’re currently meeting and consulting our structures. The party has to make that decision. Our best way forward remains Tsvangirai. But, because of circumstances we’re preparing for that . . . Well, we’re not preparing to take over but to take off. We are preparing to succeed and take the party forward. And again the issue of taking over remains an issue of the party and we’re awaiting that decision.”
He said that the party was going to hold its elective congress in 2019, but was now preparing for the forthcoming elections.
In 2011 at the MDC congress, Mudzuri lost heavily to Chamisa by 2 670 to 707 votes for the post of national organising secretary.
Chamisa went on to lose to Douglas Mwonzora when they contested each other for the position of party secretary-general following the departure of former Finance minister Tendai Biti when the party split. Mwonzora is also being touted as a dark horse.
Mudzuri added: “We have an acting president now and a president who has a vision who knows exactly how to turn around this economy, he has inculcated that into all his top hierarchy and we are ready”.
“Our president has managed us well and taught us that even in his absence, we can carry the party forward and deliver for the people. Vakuru vanoti mujoni akafa kamba haivharwe (a leader does not die with the organisation he leads). That is what we are doing. The camp has not been closed; the MDC is still very much alive”.
In his New Year’s statement, Tsvangirai insinuated that his appointment of Chamisa and Mudzuri as additional deputies in 2016 was in anticipation to his retirement plans.
“At a personal level, I am using this New Year not only to reflect on the onerous journey that we have travelled together but also to peer with renewed hope into a bright future.
“I am looking at the imminent prospects of us as the older generation leaving the levers of leadership to allow the younger generation to take forward this huge task that we started together so many years ago with our full blessing and support,” he said.
“It was therefore not by accident but by design that when I disclosed to you my health status, I also took a bold step to appoint an additional two vice presidents to assist me.
“As I have said before, while politicians only think about the next election, true statesmen think about the next generation, for leaders are only but caretakers for future generations. We do not have any entitlement to lead but we have a duty to serve,” he said.
Mudzuri toured some industries such as Bak Logistics complex that have now been reduced to empty shells because there is no longer any productivity taking place in the country.
He also spoke to some vendors selling their wares in the Southerton area, who complained that the liquidity crunch and the state of the economy had seriously affected their business.
Meanwhile, Mudzuri slammed President Emmerson Mnangagwa for not walking the talk on the reform agenda saying he had already proved that he is more or less the same as his predecessor Robert Mugabe whom he ousted with the military’s help in November last year.
“Since the same government that is calling itself new came to power, nothing has happened in terms of change. In fact, it’s getting worse with prices of basic commodities skyrocketing.
“We therefore hold the president to account for his promises on jobs, the resuscitation of industry and electoral reforms to ensure they are free fair and credible.” Daily News