MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka yesterday said his boss was responding well to treatment for cancer that he was receiving in South Africa and was expected back in the country this week.
“I talked to him today; he is in good spirits and he will be back in the country by weekend,” Tamborinyoka said in an interview yesterday. “He is responding well to chemotherapy.”
Party secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora added: “Right now, we are confident that our leader will come back. We have many State presidents who fell ill, but recovered to run the country successfully.”
Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that the MDC-T leader’s disclosure of his cancer affliction has triggered succession wars in his party.
Tsvangirai, the MDC-T’s only leader since its formation in 1999, revealed last week that he has cancer of the colon.
Well-placed sources told The Standard that soon after Tsvangirai revealed his medical status, there has been a lot of jostling in his party by officials who think he might not win the battle against the deadly disease.
The disclosure by Tsvangirai has reportedly thrown the party into turmoil, with two camps emerging in the succession matrix — one backing party deputy president Thokozane Khupe and another throwing its weight behind Nelson Chamisa.
The Khupe faction, reportedly working with Mwonzora, is allegedly on the ground, targeting party workers and officials loyal to Tsvangirai in preparation for the post-Tsvangirai era. A WhatsApp chat group named The Zimbabwean Igwee alleges the existence of the plot.
Those loyal to Chamisa and opposed to Mwonzora and team are said to be mobilising to counter the Khupe faction in the event that Tsvangirai is incapacitated.
Mwonzora and Chamisa are believed to have become foes following the party’s last congress that saw the edging of the Kuwadzana East MP for the post of secretary-general.
Mwonzora yesterday said there were no such power fights as the party constitution was clear that in the absence of the president, the vice-president would be acting president.
He said in the event that the president was incapacitated, the vice-president would take over for a period not less than a year while the party organised for an extra ordinary congress that would allow all members who thought they had the capacity to lead the party to contest.
“That information is malicious and absolutely false,” Mwonzora said.
“There is no jostling for positions. In fact, the party’s constitution is clear on what will happen in that event. At the moment, when the president is not around, VP Khupe will be acting president. The president is receiving treatment in South Africa and there is no position to take.”
Efforts to get a comment from Chamisa were fruitless, as he said he was preparing to go to Parliament. Questions delivered on WhatsApp were not responded to before his mobile phone became unreachable. Khupe’s mobile phone was also unreachable.
But sources maintained there was jostling, with the camps canvassing for support and preparing to take over power in the event that the MDC-T leader became incapacitated.
“Yes, there is jostling. The news of president Tsvangirai was received with mixed feelings. While most members are saddened by the occurrence, others are taking it as an opportunity to advance each other,” one source said.
Another one added: “People always want to see the bad side. It is not a terminal illness. It is defeatable, but unfortunately, some people always want to see otherwise.”
Chamisa was defeated by Mwonzora at the party’s last congress, but has remained a darling of many party supporters.
He rose from being a youth leader to national spokesperson before assuming the role of organising secretary. He then contested for the powerful secretary-general post, but lost to Mwonzora.