Zimbabwe’s main opposition party says its acting leader will stay at the helm following the death of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai earlier this month. But signs of internal division remain, something analysts say could handicap the opposition with elections just months away.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) goes into this year’s election without its founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in South Africa two weeks ago after a battle with colon cancer.
Since then, the MDC’s three vice presidents have been fighting for the top post.
One of them, Nelson Chamisa, said Friday that MDC leaders have chosen him to be the party’s acting head for the next 12 months.
“There is a lot of noise in the cockpit, yes. This is just turbulences. It is a difficult transition. We had a giant who was our head, our leader, and all of a sudden that giant is no longer there,” Chamisa said.
“Obviously, the small giants would want to fit in the shoes. But you can be assured that it will be resolved,” he added. “Don’t listen to too much noise. Listen to the music coming from the cockpit, and the music is that we are going to win the election.”
A coalition of opposition parties is expected to back Chamisa as their presidential candidate in the coming elections.
For the first time, the MDC will not be facing off against Robert Mugabe. The longtime president was forced to resign under military pressure in November, after 37 years in power.
Some in the opposition see opportunity in this time of transition in Zimbabwe, but independent analyst Rejoice Ngwenya says time is running out.
“Elections are really about being organized,” Ngwenya said. “If I were to advise them now, I would tell the opposition that it is too late to start re-aligning their governance and constitutional issues now. They need to compromise and focus on the candidate who is the best to bring votes into their kit. The issues of governance and constitutional issues should have been solved two years ago, it is too late now.”
The ruling ZANU-PF party has selected its top candidate, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mugabe in November.