By Prince Tongogara
The MDC-T holds a divisive congress that can potentially weaken the party again less than seven months after it split for the second time in less than a decade. Leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s trusted lieutenants are pitted against each other in a winners-take-all contest that will leave a lot looking to the president for accommodation at the high table. So far the count down has been more of power consolidation and personality profiling than specific pledges to solve bread and butter issues threatening the country’s survival.
Image battered Tsvangirai faces the daunting task of reuniting the party soon after the potentially chaotic congress, which according to insiders is severely underfunded with most delegates still at home less than 24 hours before the great indaba.
They also say no provisional accommodation bookings have been made in the capital and the party leadership is still scrounging for resources from a depleted circle of friends despite knowing about the congress four months ago considering that. The statutory political parties funding, now mired in controversy with the rival Renewal Team which is claiming its piece of the cake will could have come in handy.
The chaos will however be nothing compared to the reunification and consolidation of the party after the bruising contests among the top lieutenants..
Tsvangirai, deputy president Thokozani Khupe and national chairman Lovemore Moyo go into the weekend congress assured of retaining their positions.
However, the biggest battles will be on the powerful positions of secretary general and treasurer-general. These are crucial positions in the party as they control the day to day operations through offering administrative services and financing.
Outgoing national organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa and spokesman Douglas Mwonzora are squaring up for the secretary general post, which Tsvangirai failed to be weaken, while Theresa Makone and Tapiwa Mashakada are battling to control the party’s seemingly empty purse.
The quad of contestants are all close Tsvangirai lieutenants, some being high ranking members of his so-called kitchen cabinet and its now very certain whichever way the congress poll goes, two of them will survive on the leader’s benevolence to get to the top table.
Bruised egoes will have to be nursed, strained relations mended and at the same time reenergize the team going into the 2018 battle with support among the electorate ebbing, to avoiding a repeat of the July 31, 2013 decimation.
So far MDC-Ts existence and relevance has been greatly overshadowed by the on-going Zanu (PF) factionalism and succession battles. It will need to reorganize and strengthen its provincial and district structures, give members hope that they the new team will be able to deliver after thrice failing to land power in national politics.
The labour-backed party will also have to rebuild its alliances with its alliance partners; students, workers, peasants and disintegrated civil society but this is no mean task considering the schisms that widened during the coalition government years.
Besides galvanizing his team Tsvangirai will have to use the congress platform to re-orient MDC-T’s party policies back to the left from the more liberal platforms which it campaigned from since joining the coalition government in 2009.
The MDC-T congress will to all intents and purposes make the former Prime Minister start swimming from the ‘deep end’ taking the party with him to the dry shore to face a victorious ruling party faction. The task is not insurmountable but it needs a united team, strong visionary leader and a clear programme of action beyond mere rhetoric. The dice is cast and it remains to see whether Tsvangirai Richard Tsvangirai will measure up to the task or sadly forever drown at the deep end.