Tsvangirai succession: What does the MDC-T Constitution say  

By Watmore Makokoba
Current factional squabbles are slowly pushing MDC-T towards the possibility of another split, as the party’s three vice presidents (Thokozani Khupe, Nelson Chamisa Elias Mudzuri) are fiercely battling each other to replace the late veteran opposition politician (Morgan Tsvangirai) who died on Wednesday.
Although the MDC-T constitution which was amended during the party’s 2014 Congress talks about one vice president, Tsvangirai used sweeping powers that he got during the same Congress to appoint two more vice presidents.
While factionalism has always been there in MDC-T, it was however further encouraged by the appointment of the extra vice presidents which is reported to have not gone well with other senior executive members.
With Tsvangirai dead now, there has been confusion as to who will take over as acting president as articulated in the party constitution, Chamisa with the aid of some 191 national executive members and the national executive council was appointed the stand-in president until extra-ordinary congress in 12 months.
Mudzuri has however dismissed Chamisa’s appointment as a non-event arguing that he is the Tsvangirai-appointed acting president, while Khupe on the hand claims to be the legitimate acting president as she was directly elected at the congress.
The succession issue has created confusion not only in the party but also in the country as people are no longer sure as to who is in charge of the party.
In an effort to help shed light on the issue, we present some two sections of the MDC-T constitution that give guidelines on what should be done when the party president dies, as is the current scenario.
Was Chamisa’s appointment by the party’s national executive council constitutional or a violation of the constitution?
Death or Resignation of Office Bearers
Section 9.20.1 In the event of the death or resignation of the President, the Deputy President assumes the role of Acting President, pending the holding of an Extra-Ordinary Congress that shall be held to elect a new President which Extra-Ordinary Congress to be held no later than a year from the death or resignation of the former President.
9.21.2 In the event of the death or resignation of the National Chairperson, the Secretary-General, the Treasurer General, the National Organisation Secretary the Chairpersons of the Women and Youth Assemblies, their deputies shall respectively hold office until the next Congress.
9.21.3 Subject to this Constitution, in the event of the death or resignation of any other member of the National Council, the same shall elect a person to fill that vacancy pending the next Congress.
Powers of the National Council
Section 16.1 The National Council, notwithstanding anything contained herein, shall have the absolute discretion of determining the manner and process of any selection including the power of making any appointment for any position.
16.2 Furthermore, the National Council shall in the interest of gender representation have the power of reserving any seats or positions for women.
16.3 The National Council shall have the power of directing that no primary shall be held in any Constituency for good reason.
16.4 The National Council may disqualify or reject any selected candidate where it is satisfied that it is not in the interests of the party for that candidate to stand as the party’s candidate in any election.
16.5 In the event of such a disqualification or rejection the National Council may call for another selection process and election or may itself choose the candidate by a 2/3 majority
The MDC-T constitutional clauses recognise a single deputy president but now there are three what should happen to bring order and make the party go forward?
Another school of thought, however, says while an appointment is okay as long as the incumbent is alive, but once the incumbent is deceased that acting is no longer valid adding that the constitutional provisions have to kick in.
This thought further puts it that you can’t act for a deceased president lest he rules from the grave. An interim president has to be appointed.

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