Nelson Chamisa’s term of office as the leader of the main opposition MDC Alliance expired yesterday (14 February) and has to go for congress to get a new mandate, the Zimbabwe Morning Post has established.
If no special congress is held then this will bring to the fore a legitimacy crisis in the biggest opposition party in the country.
In fact on Thursday, at the Morgan Tsvangirai memorial , Chamisa called for congress, an indication that he was aware of his precarious position.
Sources within the MDC told this publication that Chamisa was given a 12-month-mandate soon after the death of the party leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February 2018.
“After Tsvangirai’s death the national executive as well as the national council met and resolved that Chamisa be given a 12-month mandate as the leader of the party until a congress is held,” said the source.
“We agreed that since we were going for elections there was no need for special congress as this was going to be divisive. We all agreed that 12 months would be ideal for the party to have him as a presidential candidate while preparations for a congress were underway in February 2019.”
The MDC leadership has been at each other’s throats over the dates for holding of the congress.
Chamisa’s strong allies in the party have resisted calls for a special congress to be held this February saying constitutionally the party congress should be held in October.
Douglas Mwonzora’s name has been thrown in the race but he refuted the speculative reports.
He has on several times however made it clear that although the party allowed him to contest for presidency, he has not decided which position to gun for.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said Mwonzora would have to tread carefully towards the alliance’s 2019 congress as any message could be interpreted as a threat.
“So long as Mwonzora is still around Chamisa will continue to see shadows, so one way or another if Mwonzora is quiet he is suspected, if he says something he is also suspected.
“So he is in a precarious position and has to play his cards close to his chest or risk finding himself in the political wilderness,” he said.
Rusero said Mwonzora’s decisive win for the secretary general post in 2014 over Chamisa’s bid is still fresh in the opposition leader’s mind.
“Mwonzora is very shrewd he is not a fly by night politician and as long as Mwonzora is in MDC he will always pose the greatest challenge for Chamisa, because Chamisa is still being hounded, traumatised by the dismal defeat he suffered at Mwonzora’s hands for the secretary general’s post in 2014,” Rusero said.
Despite, his 2014 loss to Mwonzora, Chamisa controversially became leader of the MDC Alliance shortly after the death of MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
His rise to power was contentious enough and led to the formation of Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T, and rumours of discontent amongst senior figures within the MDC.
At the material time in February 2018 the then party chairperson Morgan Komichi told journalists that Chamisa was to be the leader of the MDC Alliance for 12 months until the party holds its congress.