Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to step down as leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) next year in line with the party’s original constitution that allows an incumbent to hold office for a maximum of two five-year terms.
Informed sources within the popular party claim that MDC has passed a binding resolution that would see Tsvangirai relinquish power during the party’s third congress
At the congress, which would be after presidential elections- a new leader would be elected.
Both Tsvangirai and the 86 year old President Robert Mugabe have announced their desire to run for the top job next year.
According to a recent poll survey, Tsvangirais’s party, MDC would win the next general elections while Zanu PF will trail in a distant second.
Tsvangirai, the findings say, will get 32% of the votes cast and the veteran ruler Robert Mugabe would come second with 18%.
The remaining votes would be shared among other smaller parties- Zapu (2%) while Deputy Prime Minister Arther Mutambara and 2008 presidential candidate Simba Makoni would manage just one percent each.
Analysts say Tsvangirai could be forced to relinquish his party post but still continue to lead government should he win the presidential ballot.
On his part Tsvangirai is said to have confided in some members of his inner circle that even if he loses the next election he would still step down.
In September, Tsvangirai told a rally that a pact had been reached with the ZANU-PF not to challenge the other’s victory in the upcoming election.
Tsvangirai’s exit from active politics is likely to spark intense jockeying among senior MDC-T officials eyeing the position.
He has been at the helm of his party, founded the MDC in 1999 along with other civil society leaders, for more than 11 years.
Nelson Chamisa, the party’s spokesperson, said the MDC-T’s constitution would not be amended and has never been amended.
“We are a democratic movement and we believe in constitutions and constitutionalism. The constitution was never changed and it will not be changed. We believe in (democratic) change and not changing constitutions,” said Chamisa.
“The president has been tempted in the past to use undemocratic means but he has stuck to democracy and we celebrate that.”
Another senior MDC-T member, Eddie Cross, said the party’s resolution on the congress was informed by the fact that it would be “disruptive” to hold it before the presidential election.
“Congress will follow elections, we passed that resolution,” said Cross.
At the MDC-T congress in 2006, Tsvangirai said that when his time is up, he would step down saying a new Zimbabwe has no space for life presidents.
“My contract with the people does not extend beyond a certain time-frame. A New Zimbabwe, a new beginning has no room for life presidents. My wish is to execute your mandate in an honest and vigorous manner; preside over a transition to a full democracy and pass on the baton to another Zimbabwean,” Tsvangirai said then.
“I believe in leading by example. I believe there must be an exciting life for a pensioner – whether that pensioner is a peasant, former factory cleaner or a former president. I pledge to honor my word.”