Tsvangirai’s deputy ‘begs’ support from ZCTU as succession battle intensifies
Acting MDC-T President, Elias Mudzuri reportedly met with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leadership Tuesday allegedly to solicit for support from the country’s biggest labour body.
The meeting, which lasted more than 30 minutes, was held at the ZCTU Secretary General, Japhet Moyo’s office and was attended by ZCTU President, Peter Mutasa and the union’s two Deputy Secretary Generals, Sylvester Mutindindi and Thomas Masvingwe.
Mudzuri was accompanied by David Shambare, the party’s chief of protocol.
The MDC was formed by the ZCTU in 1999, with the then Secretary General, Morgan Tsvangirai, seconded to lead the new party, which was expected to champion workers’ issues after the National People’s Convention.
It was to pose the biggest threat to former President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF since independence in 1980.
However, over the years, the party adopted the “wide tent” approach and appeared to have deviated from the ethos of labour as most of those with a labour background fell by the way side with intellectuals taking over at the higher echelons of power in the movement.
But Mudzuri, on Wednesday, re-traced his footsteps back to the union that gave birth to the country’s biggest opposition political party in history; ostensibly to garner support for his candidature as jostling to succeed the ailing Tsvangirai intensifies.
Mudzuri and his co-Vice Presidents, Nelson Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe, have been engaged in factional fights over who should take over leadership of the party should Tsvangirai, who hinted a few weeks ago in a statement that he could hand over power to a younger leader.
A source close to the former Harare Mayor said he discussed the succession issues in the MDC-T and the role the labour body should play in the pending make or break harmonized elections which are due before the end of this year.
“He was lobbying for support from labour in his bid to take over as party president should Tsvangirai become incapacitated and also the role the ZCTU should take in the next elections, which are crucial for both the party and the nation,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
However, both Mutasa and Moyo downplayed the meeting, saying it was a courtesy call where Mudzuri was informing them of his appointment as the acting President of the party in the absence of Tsvangirai, in South Africa for routine medical treatment.
“It was just a courtesy call and the main issue was on briefing us of his appointment as the party’s Acting President. He also gave us an update on the preparedness of the party for the forthcoming elections,” Mutasa said.
He added, “Mudzuri made it clear that there was no vacancy yet in the MDC-T presidency and that Tsvangirai remained the party leader and MDC Alliance Presidential candidate.”
Moyo said the ZCTU was prepared to meet with the presidents of other political parties and other senior politicians in the country who were keen on engaging the labour body, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“As the ZCTU we are open to all political parties on issues of national interest and have an open door policy and as a trade union organization we will not campaign for any particular party,”
He said people should go out and vote with their bellies as they would determine where their vote should go.
“I am not sure whether we have members who can vote for 94 percent informality, company closures, job losses.
I don’t think we have members who can make that choice, so we are saying go in your millions and express yourself at the ballot box,” he said.