So, conversations have begun for a life after Tsvangirai. It is a conversation that the people in MDC, first and foremost, are seized with and they have been talking about it more openly. This is not because they do not like Tsvangirai.
They do, and many believe that he is the so-called best foot forward. And the face of democracy, whatever that means. But there has to be life after him — and people are already positioning themselves for that.
There are three broad possibilities that are likely to take place:
a) Nelson Chamisa
b) Thokozani Khupe
c) Welshman Ncube or Tendai Biti
Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri were co-opted as second vice presidents of the MDC-T last year. Chamisa is widely believed to be the shoo-in for successor. Tsvangirai has apparently been grooming him to take over and has been with him in on some diplomatic forays in places like Ghana and Kenya. Chamisa is young, energetic and charismatic.
He has a fresh face, too. The lawyer will be 40 years early next year, just in time to be eligible for national presidency. Chamisa commands a lot of respect in and out of the party and he is no doubt the front runner. But that does not mean he is not immune to shenanigans within the party that may derail his ambitions.
A few years ago, he was reduced to an ordinary card-carrying member after losing the contest for the post of secretary-general to Douglas Mwonzora. There are many in the top echelons that may feel threatened by him or feel jealous of his rise that they can have no scruples arranging a train-wreck of his ambitions.
For him, complacency will be his downfall. Khupe has been raising her profile of late. She has stood up to Tsvangirai over his decisions regarding the coalition. She is seeing herself as the top dog, especially of the Matabeleland provinces where she commands respect.
If she whips out the gender card, she may add a few tonnes to her political weight. However, that may not be enough as both her regionalism and gender cards may actually boomerang as attributes for a national leader. Both Khupe and Chamisa appear to have the advantages of incumbency.
It has been reported that the coalition deal has a clause that says in the event of Tsvangirai’s death or incapacitation, the candidate to replace him will come from the MDC-T.
That means both Biti and Ncube, who are coming into the fold as prodigal sons, are rank outsiders. It may take a lot of effort, a miracle even, for any one of them to lead a post-Tsvangirai MDC. But their role can be that of kingmakers. Ncube may likely back Chamisa for president, for the obvious reason of spiting Khupe. It will give him a good shot — even for national presidency. Biti will have to choose as well between Khupe and Chamisa. It will all be interesting. state media