Monday, February 19, 2018

MDC-T set for March extraordinary congress

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THE opposition MDC-T is set to hold a critical extraordinary congress to fill the void left by iconic leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who passed away last Wednesday following a two-year battle with cancer, NewsDay reported.

Party secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora told NewsDay in an exclusive interview that the MDC-T has no choice, but to go to congress for the selection of a new leader and presidential candidate ahead of general polls later this year.

"The issue of who fills the vacancy in the presidency cannot be determined by the national executive or national council, but this can only be done by an extraordinary congress. This has to be before the election and before the 15th of March.

"If we allow the national council to make the decision of who is leader that would be trying to usurp the power of a body composed of about 5 000 and replace that with a body made up of around 170 members. It's not logical," he said.

Mwonzora's comments fly in the face of MDC-T acting president, Nelson Chamisa, who last week was appointed by the party's national council to replace Tsvangirai for the next 12 months.

Mwonzora said the argument about the party lacking resources is "illogical" and unconstitutional.

"The business of an extraordinary congress is to dispense of one item, to elect the substantive president of the party and an election presidential candidate. The constitution does not say we must hold a congress when we have the resources.

"In order for the chosen person to have legitimacy, we have to follow the law to the letter and this what president Tsvangirai would have wanted. We are a social democratic party and have since formation argued for respect for the law. We have no choice but to show our supporters, the country and the world that we respect the law and live our word," the MDC-T secretary general said.

Mwonzora said after Tsvangirai's funeral, the MDC-T will trigger an internal process leading to an extra-ordinary congress to elect a new leader and a presidential candidate, adding the former Prime Minister had done well not to anoint a successor.

"It was the correct thing for him not to anoint anybody. This is because it would have been undemocratic [and] monarchical. It would have been akin to usurping the power of congress.

"Tsvangirai came to power through congress and anyone who wants to lead the MDC-T should come in that way. It is world best practice and would be ill-advised to proceed in any other way," he said.