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Ailing Tsvangirai treads carefully on choice of successor, paddocks deputies

Struggling with poor health ... MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai

26/09/2017 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
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MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has remained careful not to stir up factional tensions within his party by deciding against naming any of his three deputies to act on his behalf while he recovers from a recent ailment.

The opposition strongman was flown to South African over a week ago to receive treatment over a complaint linked to his colon cancer.

But even in his moments of agony in foreign territory, he did not take eyes off the situation back home, continuously urging locals, through his spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, to register en masse for next year’s harmonised elections.

However, uncertainties around his failing health have led to festering tensions among his lieutenants now trying to position themselves in the event the main opposition’s founding leader finally decides to quit his job due to illness.

To avoid a leadership vacuum in his party, Tsvangirai announced last Friday that his deputies Thokozani Khupe, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri will be in charge of the party but only in their respective party portfolios.

“In the meantime, the three vice-presidents will continue to execute their assigned tasks to ensure consistent and uninterrupted leadership to the various party programmes currently taking place,” Tsvangirai said through Tamborinyoka Friday.

Khupe is in charge of Admin and Women while Chamisa superintends over Policy, International Relations and Youth with Mudzuri head of Organising and Elections.

The decision to paddock his three lieutenants in their respective portfolios could be seen as a sign the former Prime Minister is not keen on stepping on any succession landmines during a very decisive moment of his political life and that of his party.

Eying the top job? ... MDC-T vice president Elias Mudzuri

Harare based political commentator Vivid Gwede said Tsvangirai’s decision was indicated that he did not want to fan factional divisions within his party few months before a crucial election.

“As we have already seen, this is not a strategic time to be elevating any of the Vice Presidents,” he said of the State presidential hopeful.


“The opposition needs to be concentrating on elections rather than any internal conflict that might be caused by succession related decisions.

“In any case, the MDC-T leader has not given up the fight from the look of things. So, it is a signal that he feels he is still in the game…”

When it became apparent ailment was bound to sap his energy ahead of a tough campaign period for 2018, Tsvangirai in 2016 moved to elevate Chamisa and Mudzuri to join elected VP Khupe at the apex of the main opposition.

Tsvangirai said during a press conference that his party had given him the green light to appoint one more deputy but he instead chose to appoint two. He left many speculating as to whom between Chamisa and Mudzuri was his first choice.

The two influential politicians have emerged top among those who could galvanise support for party leadership.

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