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MDC-T Succession Talks Have Begun

MDC party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says discussions over their leader's succession have started following its overwhelming defeat to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in the July 31st national elections.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told a news conference at his party's Harvest House headquarters in Harare on Thursday that party officials have started discussing who will lead the labour-backed organization in the event that Mr. Tsvangirai steps down.

Mr. Mwonzora said this issue was discussed in the National Council, the party's supreme decision-making body between congresses, as well as the National Executive Committee, among other forums.

The MDC-T spokesman said Mr. Tsvangirai “welcomes” discussions on his succession.

Mwonzora, however, stressed that the succession debate should not be influenced by people outside the party's structures, including Zanu-PF.

Since the July 31st national elections that dashed Mr. Tsvangirai’s hopes to become president and saw the MDC-T lose seats in Parliament, there have been some very public calls for “leadership renewal.” However, Mwonzora noted that the National Council agreed unanimously that Mr. Tsvangirai should continue to lead the party until his term expires in 2016.

An early call for change was made publicly by party treasurer-general Roy Bennett, who lives in exile in South Africa.

More recently, a member of the party's national executive, Ian Kay, also weighed in, saying that new leadership was required to reinvigorate the party following Zanu-PF's victory. Mr. Kay is now facing suspension by the MDC-T Mashonaland East provincial executive committee for his remarks.

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Mr. Mwonzora added that his party has also set up a disciplinary committee to investigate MDC city councillors who voted for Zanu-PF candidates in mayoral elections, as well as those who voted for MDC candidates who ran on July 31st but who were not sanctioned by the party.

Mwonzora also announced that his party will contest the Bikita West parliamentary seat following the expulsion of the elected Zanu-PF legislator, Munyaradzi Kereke.

Whether the MDC can pick up the additional seat is unclear. The newly formed National Constitutional Assembly party says it may also field a candidate in the Bikita West by-election.