By Robert Tapfumaneyi
LATE opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai knew if either Nelson Chamisa or Thokozani Khupe succeeded him as president, the party would split into rival factions, newly appointed MDC-T deputy chair, Elias Mudzuri has claimed.
Tsvangirai died in 2018 and the battle to succeed him rages on with Chamisa and Khupe laying claim to the throne.
In 2016, Tsvangirai appointed Mudzuri and Chamisa as co-presidents bringing the number of VPs in the party to three. Khupe had already been elected at congress.
Chamisa was responsible for mobilising the youths, Khupe for administration. Mudzuri, the third of the VPs, said his own appointment was on that he was an exemplary leader and a unifier in the party.
The MDC-T top official said he was surprised about his own appointment 2016 but was later informed by Tsvangirai that the decision was because of his credentials and character. He described himself glowingly as a hard worker and able to unite party supporters.
“I also asked him (Tsvangirai) why he wants me to be vice-president, I thought he wanted certain people,” Mudzuri told NewZimbabwe.com in a wide-ranging interview this week.
“Then he said he was choosing somebody who is going to unite the people. Then he told me that he thought I was the character who could be able to unite and he chose me.
“He told me that he had seen my work throughout and that I have never been fighting with people. I have done my work as mayor, I have done my work as an organising secretary, I have never fought anyone instead I have been trying to unite people in the party,” Mudzuri boasted ahead of the July 31 MDC-T extraordinary congress to replace Tsvangirai.
Mudzuri served as Harare’s first executive mayor, MP, and Minister of Energy during the now defunct inclusive government.
“(Tsvangirai) had been looking at those in the party and to be honest, he thought I would the best person who can be trusted and unite factions.”
He added: “I didn’t contest and he said I was not fighting for a position. I was advising him whenever it was really necessary, so I agreed. Tsvangirai told me that since I had organised the 2008 elections and we won. He felt I could play a big part in being a vice president in charge of organising.”
Tsvangirai made history in 2008 by defeating then President Robert Mugabe in an election. He did not take part in the run-off poll citing state sponsored violence on his party structures.
“He immediately gave me that task of organising and probably looking at local government since I have been successful mayor. He said he wanted me to work and make sure that we get to the next election in a winning mode.
“He also said he needed Nelson Chamisa as a young person to mobilise the youths.”
Mudzuri said when Tsvangirai died in South Africa, he was the acting president and it should have been natural for him to continue in that position.
“When he asked me to act (as president) during his last day, then I questioned him, yes I am going to act but there are always people who say taenda kwa president (We are coming from meeting the president). How will I manage them?
“He replied; ‘from now onwards, I am not goona tell anyone anything other than you. If anyone says they are coming from me, they will be lying, I will not allow them to betray you and from onwards ita zvandange ndichiita (Do as I was doing), you can go and campaign and prepare for elections. And when I come back, you will continue to act and I will be at home and bring people together because you know if one (Chamisa or Khupe) of them take over , there is going to be a split and this is what I am experiencing’,” Mudzuri said of Tsvangirai confiding in him.
“When you see me quiet, I will be reflecting. I could see what is happening, you know exactly this is what I was told.”