HomeLocalBattle lines drawn as MDC congress looms

Battle lines drawn as MDC congress looms

Authoritative party insiders said the “holy water”, which some suspicious members of women’s assembly national executive committee refused to take, was to be used as “luck charm” to enable whoever used it win a post at the party’s congress slated for May 8 and 9 this year.

The women’s assembly was meeting to consider amendments to their constitution.

Sources said Home Affairs co-minister of Theresa Makone, who is facing a revolt from party’s women structures, had previously travelled to Nigeria where she got the water from TB Joshua (pictured) of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations to enhance her chances retaining her hotly contested post at the congress.

“Makone came with bottles of water which she said were for healing,” said a source who attended the meeting.

“Some of us refused to take the water because we did not believe in that. I believe in working with the people from the grassroots and that way you get people’s approval.”

Makone yesterday confirmed giving out the holy water to some members of the party’s women assembly. The minister said she had visited TB Joshua to renew her faith.

“Yes, I went Lagos to see TB Joshua and I brought with me some holy water for healing for myself and my family,” said Makone. “I gave it to other members because from the airport I went straight to the meeting and when they realised that I was from Nigeria some asked me to share with them the water.”

She however denied that the water was meant to ward off challenge from political foe, Lucia Matibenga who is likely to challenge her for the post of chairlady of party’s women’s assembly.

Makone said all the influential leaders who have visited the popular prophet are also given such water for healing or prosperity depending on what one asks for. She urged African leaders in influential positions to seek guidance from the Lagos-based prophet to ensure peace and stability on the continent.

Reports say MDC president Tsvangirai last year visited TB Joshua to enhance his chances of beating President Robert Mugabe, who has been ruling the country for the past three decades, in the next elections.

Sources in the party said the battle for positions in the women’s assembly has reached epic proportions. There were fears that it would surpass the Makone versus Matibenga fight of 2007 which virtually split the labour-based party into two factions.

The sources said Makone and Matibenga were likely to face each other again this year for the same post.

In 2007, Makone and Matibenga’s supporters clashed at Harvest House, the party’s headquarters in an intra-party weekend violence which also targeted journalists.

Then, Elias Mudzuri, the party’s organising secretary claimed “hired” elements were behind violence which targeted supporters of Matibenga, the former head of the party’s women’s wing ousted in favour of Makone, a Tsvangirai ally.

Other women said to be interested in chairing the women’s assembly include MPs Evelyn Masaiti and Tabitha Khumalo.

Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Jessie Majome said she was not interested in any position.

Sources said Matibenga initially wanted to challenge national chairman Lovemore Moyo but there were some talks and she agreed to revert back to old position in which she strongly feels was unfairly removed.

The battle for posts is not confined to the women’s assembly only. Party sources said there is friction in the party as members position themselves for posts ahead of the May congress.

“The kitchen cabinet has virtually camped at Strathaven,” said one source. “In most of the cases they arrive there early morning and leave late in the evening trying to seek favours from the president because most of them know that they cannot survive an election,” said the source.

Tsvangirai lives in Harare’s Strathaven suburb.

They said MDC organising secretary, Elias Mudzuri was likely to face stiff competition from his deputy Morgan Komichi or Glen View MP-cum music composer Paul Madzore.

Among other members who are likely to lose their post are MDC youth chairperson Thamsanqa Mahlangu and Women’s assembly organising secretary Lynette Karenyi, who is also MP for Chimanimani West.

The sources said posts that are safe are that of Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe, national chairman Moyo, secretary-general Tendai Biti and deputy secretary general Tapiwa Mashakada.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the congress roadmap was yet to be availed to the party structures. He said the congress was never meant to throw anyone out of the party.

“The nominations have not been done yet,” said Chamisa. “The early part of 2011 is going to be part of our consolidation, togetherness and oneness as we build a strong and great MDC that will continue to maintain its position as a party of excellence. We are the winning team.”

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