Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Picture: Jekesai Njikizana

Harare -

Morgan Tsvangirai’s most senior lieutenants in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party have asked him to step down and make way for a new leader.

Elton Mangoma, deputy treasurer of the 14-year-old MDC wrote a memorandum to party president Tsvangirai, asking him to quit so the party can rebuild itself ahead of the next elections, due in 2018.

The MDC was decimated in elections last year which Mangoma and others in the party claim were stolen by Zanu-PF.

Mangoma told Independent Newspapers on Monday that he first presented his memorandum to Tsvangirai, vice-president Thokozani Khupe and secretary-general Tendai Biti last week. It was then discussed at the MDC’s 12-strong standing committee.

Mangoma raised several issues with Tsvangirai about his leadership including the expensive house bought by the government for him when he was prime minister in the inclusive government.

Tsvangirai has remained in the house since the poll, although he holds no position in government.

Mangoma also referred in the memo to Tsvangirai’s problems with “women”.

Tsvangirai’s first wife Susan died in a car crash in early 2009 and since then, Tsvangirai has had several relationships.

Tsvangirai, a trade unionist before he moved into politics late in 1999, married the widow of an army officer whose father was an official with Zanu-PF in 2012. The marriage is apparently in trouble according to MDC insiders.

Zanu-PF splashed steamy pictures of Tsvangirai and other women he had relationships with across several newspapers.

“No one should be a leader for ever. We do not want to find ourselves with the same problems Zanu-PF is facing over succession.

“There are many people in the MDC who are capable and an extraordinary congress will be decisive in that respect,” Mangoma told NewZimbabwe.com.

The memorandum from Mangoma, a chartered accountant and energy minister in the inclusive government, will now be debated at the party’s 38-strong national council which can then vote for an extraordinary congress.

Douglas Mwonzora, spokesman for the MDC said he could not confirm that any members of the party’s standing committee supported calls for Tsvangirai to retire.

The next MDC congress is only due in 2016 but Tsvangirai has indicated to some media via a few of his supporters in the senior ranks that he will stay put until then. His spokesman Luke Tamborinyika did not answer his phone on Monday.

Other MDC leaders, who did not want to be identified say that Mangoma’s memorandum expressed the will of most senior members of the party.

Eldred Masunungure, veteran political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe said after the results of the elections became known Tsvangirai should have immediately stepped down.

Leader of the MDC’s women’s assembly, Theresa Makone reacted late on Monday saying “we disassociate ourselves from some statements in the public domain that are misrepresenting the facts on the life and health of our party”.

Independent Foreign Service