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Tsvangirai and his deputies: The facts

By Luke Tamborinyoka (MDC Presidential Spokesman)

On Thursday, 14 July 2016, two MDC’s organs, the national executive and national council met for nine hours at the party’s headquarters at 44 Nelson Mandela Avenue, Harare.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka

As usual, the national executive met first for four hours from 10am and made recommendations to the national council, which sat for another five hours starting from 1400 hrs until the evening. There was happiness and ululation after the council meeting as delegates welcomed the resolutions.

The national council is the party’s supreme decision-making body in between congresses and is mandated to make policy decisions. At every Congress, council makes a report to Congress on the decisions that it would have made in the five years between the Congresses.

Last Thursday, the national executive recommended to council that the President increases the number of his Vice Presidents, considering the mammoth task that needs to be done ahead of the election and other exigencies of our political moment as a party. The national council thoroughly debated this matter to the extent that each province was asked to state its position on the issue.

The MDC has 12 provinces and representatives from all provinces put forward their position on this issue. First to state its position was Bulawayo province and Mashonaland Central was the last to make its presentation. Of the 12 provinces, nine said the President should be allowed to increase his deputies while three provinces thought otherwise.

It is important to note that even the three provinces that were of a different position did not disagree with the principle of the President increasing the number of his deputies. They only had problems with other factors such as the timing and not necessarily the principle itself.

In the MDC, party organs are bigger than individuals. Individual whims and caprices are subordinate to the will of the majority. Whether an individual has chosen to stay away from the meeting,or whether one’s position was in the minority the majority decision becomes the party position as long as the meeting was quorate, as last Thursday’s national council meeting was.

It is this august body, the national council that gave the President the powers to increase his own deputies by appointment. In any case the MDC constitution gives powers to the national council to run the party in between Congresses. Article 6.4.1 and 6.4.2 (a) of the party Constitution give the national council absolute power not only to implement congress resolutions but to run the party between Congresses.

In addition, Article 16.1 of the party Constitution says such powers include the power to determine “the process of any selection including the power of making any appointment to any position.” It is this body that gave the President the directive to appoint his deputies.

This directive should be read within the broader context of the fact that the 4th Congress of October 2014 gave the MDC President the powers to make appointments into the standing committee, on top of the elected officials. These are the powers the party President used to appoint the secretary for elections, Hon. Murisi Zwizwai into the standing committee as secretary for elections and Hon. Amos Chibaya as deputy organizing secretary following the death of Hon. Thamsanqa Mahlangu.

In addition, Article 9.1.1 (f) says the party president shall perform any function, duty and exercise any power as directed by the national council.

The President was also given powers to directly supervise standing committee members, reshuffle or transfer them to other departments. That is why soon after the death of Hon. Mahlangu, the secretary for elections,Hon. Zwizwai was temporarily transferred to act as deputy organizing secretary.

Some have raised valid issues concerning gender and tribe but as President Tsvangirai pointed out last week, it was the nature of the job that needed to be done that determined the candidates that were appointed and not any other factor. It did not matter where the cats came from. As long as they catch mice!

We are a democratic party and naturally members see things differently. That difference and diversity of opinion should be celebrated but in the end, it is the majority opinion that prevails. Last Thursday, the majority opinion of the party’s supreme decision-making body between Congresses gave Morgan Tsvangirai powers to increase the number of his deputies.

In a democracy, the sentiment that loses the debate must not take it to heart. Whether you lost the vote in a meeting, or you chose not to attend, your personal whims and preferences must be subordinate to the majority sentiment. In the MDC, it is the collective and not the individual that reigns supreme.

The party President does not have to consult individuals. He consults structures, party organs and the Constitution. And this was duly done. For the record, on the morning of Friday, 17 July 2016, the President spoke to all national leaders, including Vice President Thokozani Khupe, about the appointments he was going to make in line with the directive of the national council.

Contrary to some misguided and mischievous views being peddled on the political market, split opinions do not necessarily mean that an organisation will split. Split opinions are the very essence and oxygen of democracy and they do not amount to a split of the institution.

The appointments of Eng. Elias Mudzuri and Advocate Nelson Chamisa was okayed by a superior organ of the party. Any two or individuals plotting under a tree can never be above the national council of the party, whatever their political station in the party hierarchy.

The two appointments satisfy the Constitution they satisfy the directive of the council and the expectations of ordinary Zimbabweans within and without the party structures who have welcomed the increased number of the President’s lieutenants in the cockpit of the party.

We note a mischievous attempt to brand Tsvangirai as a dictator who does not consult. Contrary to this warped and erroneous view, those who know him well are aware that if the man has any weakness at all, it is that he consults too much; even where such consultations may be necessary. He is a leader who listens to everyone and anyone whatever their station in life.

The national council runs the party between the Congresses and is equally a custodian of the Constitution. It is the Constitution and it cannot break itself.

Luke Tamborinyoka
Presidential Spokesperson and Director of Communications
Movement for democratic Change