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Delayed MDC congress finally takes place today

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By Mugove Tafirenyika & Blessings Mashaya

THE MDC will finally hold its delayed and court-ordered extraordinary congress in Harare today, as the country’s strife-torn main opposition party attempts to choose a substantive successor to its late and much-loved founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

In the chaotic contest, interim party leader Thokozani Khupe will square off against MDC chairperson Morgen Komichi, secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and deputy chairperson Elias Mudzuri.

The MDC was forced to cancel this gathering last week following disagreements among its leaders, as well as the “unearthing of irregularities” — which some party bigwigs claimed would undermine voting if these were not attended to.

Still, Mudzuri expressed fresh fears yesterday that the outcome of today’s election could be disputed. “We have not yet received the final voters’ roll. We are still waiting for it. We are going to meet today (yesterday).

“We also don’t have enough money for the congress, but for now I can say delegates have managed to come to the congress,” he said.

However, MDC acting spokesperson Tapiwa Mashakada said the party was ready for the congress. “Everything is now in place. We are ready to have our congress. We are expecting 3 500 delegates.

“To my knowledge, the process is running smoothly. Candidates inspected the voters’ roll and I think we can now clearly say that the elections are there tomorrow (today),” Mashakada told the Daily News On Sunday.

This comes as there are swirling but unproven claims of abuse of funds by some party bigwigs. Khupe is accused of allegedly misusing US$35 000 which was meant for the congress, while Mwonzora was also alleged to have abused $300 000.

But Mashakada told the Daily News On Sunday that the allegations were part of smear campaigns by rival camps ahead of the congress.

“The US$35 000 (from the first grant of 2020) was deployed for party expenses when initially it was ring-fenced for the congress. “That is where the misconception comes from … Smear campaigns are typical of congresses,” he said.

Mwonzora also said yesterday that it was “normal for a future president” to be fought from all angles by struggling rivals.

“I am now tired of that. You guys are noticing the making of the future president of the country,” he said. Last Saturday, the MDC cancelled its congress hours before it was due to take place citing logistical challenges.

Today’s crucial vote comes after the Supreme Court’s judgment in March upheld last year’s ruling by the High Court   that nullified Nelson Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the country’s biggest opposition party.

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