The MDC Constitution 101
By Chipo Dendere
In the wake of Morgan Tsvangirai’s unfortunate death the issue of succession has taken center stage.
Prior to 2016 the MDC power structures matched the constitution with 11 its NSC members directly elected by congress
188.8.131.52 The National Standing Committee
The National Standing Committee shall compose of the president and deputy president and nine others..
(a) The President: Morgan Tsvangirai
(b) The Deputy President: Thokozani Khupe
Under normal circumstances the Deputy President they would refer to section 9.21 of their constitution.
9.21 Death or Resignation of Office Bearers
9.20.1 In the event of the death or resignation of the President, the Deputy President assumes the role of Acting President, pending the holding of an Extra-Ordinary Congress that shall be held to elect a new President which Extra-Ordinary Congress to be held no later than a year from the death or resignation of the former President.
9.21.2 In the event of the death or resignation of the National Chairperson, the Secretary General, the Treasurer General, the National Organizing Secretary the Chairpersons of the Women and Youth Assemblies, their deputies shall respectively hold office until the next Congress.
9.21.3 Subject to this Constitution, in the event of the death or resignation of any other member of the National Council, the same shall elect a person to fill that vacancy pending the next Congress.
- In July 2016, Morgan Tsvangirai appointed Mudzuri and Chamisa as additional Vice Presidents. In the making of their constitution they did not anticipate that they would add not just one but two deputy presidents. It remains unclear how the party decided that they needed three deputies. Section 4.2. was probably a guard against such abuse of executive privilege.
- Tsvangirai in Article 16 had the power to appoint but not create new positions and certainly not at the executive level. We can also say what was done was done but even with such a position the national council and the president are not above the constitution and the constitution asked that the nominated candidates must be directly elected by congress
- Appointed but not elected
Since the next congress is technically not until 2019 Chamisa and Mudzuri were serving on borrowed time. Ideally, the party should have help an extraordinary congress to elect them and amend the constitution but that did not happen leading to a third issue
- Who is Who in the constitution
In the death of a president the deputy who is duly elected at congress is the only person who has the legal mandate to take over. That said a more ideal situation is one in which the three VPs would have sat down with the rest of the council to vote for an acting president from the three. In rushing an election Chamisa actually used laws that only apply to the ZANU PF or national constitution which recognize the existence of two VPs. The MDC constitution has not yet been amended and there are no clear instructions on how to handle resolutions
- Time frame for National Council meetings: Chamisa did not give his two comrades Khupe and Mudzuri enough time to travel for the meeting. It was very disingenuous to call for a meeting within hours of Morgan Tsvangirai’s death and then to have a vote in less than 24 hours. Their constitution is mum on time frames for important meetings. It is very possible that the vote was not valid.