ZImbabwe’s embattled opposition group, the MDC, begins a three-day meeting tomorrow in the capital, Harare. For the first time, veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is facing five challengers for the presidency of his party’s faction. Later, he will face off against rival Arthur Mutambara, who was elected MDC leader by another faction three weeks ago.
Professor Heneri Dzinotyiweyi heads the Harare-based think tank Zimbabwe Integrated Program. He told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje the party split may have resulted from a perception among some MDC leaders that “Tsvangirai might be another dictator who doesn’t listen to the view of the majority.” He says Tsvangirai’s continued leadership will depend on “how he handles the role of leading the party after the congress” and added, “This requires demonstrating to his critics that he does indeed listen and abide by majority views.”
The MDC once posed the biggest challenge to President Robert Mugabe's rule, but it split late last year over Mr. Tsvangirai's decision to boycott Senate elections. Professor Dzinotyiweyi says the ongoing leadership squabble has seriously eroded the MDC’s standing among Zimbabweans. He says to regain some of its lost credibility, the party needs to avoid the bickering and “directly focus on issues pertinent to ordinary Zimbabweans.”