The Movement for Democratic Change`s (MDC) 5th elective congress has started in Gweru with more than 6 000 voting delegates from ten provinces including external provinces of USA, United Kingdom, and South Africa expected to attend.
The three-day congress which has been rocked by controversy with numerous court applications to block it is being held under the theme ” Defining a new course for Zimbabwe”.
The latest application was heard at the High Court yesterday (Thursday) by Judge Justice Edith Mushore after a Gokwe based party activist approached the court seeking to stop the process.
Maureen Tawenga had sought an interdict to stop the opposition from holding an ordinary congress arguing that the party should instead hold an extra-ordinary congress now.
Tawenga pleaded with the court that the matter is treated as urgent.
However, Mushore ruled that the matter was not urgent.
At the venue, Ascot Stadium, tensions are high among delegates with glaring factions in last-minute canvassing for votes.
Several youths were spotted tearing posters outside the venue.
So volatile is the situation that party insiders say without elaborating that ” anything is possible”.
By 12 midday hundreds of supporters decked in party regalia and various candidates could be seen flocking to the venue.
However, accreditation of delegates has not kicked off despite elections set for 2 pm.
Security is tight at the venue, with dozens of police officers milling around the surrounding areas.
Internal MDC security is also conducting random searches on members.
According to the official congress program, youth and women elections are scheduled for today with an external independent body hired to oversee the polls.
On Saturday, crunch elections of three vice presidents slots take place.
A crowded field of seven candidates, four male, and three females are vying to deputise president-elect Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa, who controversially shot to power after the death of founding leader Dr. Morgan Tsvangirai in 2018 would be retained unopposed.
The male contestants are current vice presidents Welshman Ncube, Morgan Komichi and Elias Mudzuri and deputy national chairman Tendai Biti.
Lynette Karenyi Kore, Lillian Timveos and Tracy Mutinhiri will slug it out on the women side.
The party National Council recently passed a resolution to reserve one seat for a female deputy.
The National chairman`s race pits incumbent Thabita Khumalo, Bekithemba Mpofu, and Gabuzza Joel Gabuzza.
Outgoing Youth Assembly chairman Chidziva Happymore will battle it out with Job Sikhala and Costa Machingauta for vice chairman.
Current secretary general Mwonzora Douglas who come under sustained criticism two months ago for indicating his desire to challenge Chamisa seeks to retain his position by outclassing Charlton Hwende and Danial Molokele.
Founding party legal secretary Coltart David and Tapiwa Mashakada are contesting the Treasurer general position.
The loser will automatically assume the deputy post, CITE understands.
National Organising secretary Amos Chibaya told CITE that they are rearing to go.
“This is a party of excellence and we are happy that despite all efforts to disrupt the people’s Congress by rivals and hired people, we are ready to roll,” said Chibaya.
On logistical bottlenecks, he said some provinces battled to secure fuel.
However, the fuel situation which threatened to reduce the number of delegates has been taken care off, he said.
However, several delegates said it was nightmare sourcing buses and trucks to Gweru.
Rumbidzai Bhushe from Manicaland said several bus operators kept changing fares with some withdrawing their buses.
“It has been hectic arranging the journey to Gweru. Some bus operators suddenly developed cold feet and withdrew their buses without clear explanations.
“However, we heard that Zanu PF people in Mutare threatened to influence transport ministry to cancel operating licenses for anyone who will hire out buses or trucks to MDC,” explained Bhushe.
Meanwhile, party national spokesman Jacob Mafume told the media that invitations have been sent out to arch-rivals President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC-T leader Thokozani Khuphe to attend the congress.
It’s highly unlikely that the pair will honour the invite with President Mnangagwa expected to attend the inauguration of South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Saturday.