By Tendai Kamhungira
MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora says the main opposition party’s revered late founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is probably turning in his grave because of the toxic politics obtaining in the party that he had lived and sacrificed so much for.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily News on Sunday last week, Mwonzora also said were Tsvangirai still around, he would be “terribly disappointed” by the petty agendas, the ill-discipline and the chaos that was consuming the party ahead of its elective congress in May.
This comes as there are growing reports of turmoil, thuggery, intimidation and manipulation of party structures within the country’s main opposition, as MDC bigwigs jostle for positions ahead of the fast approaching key internal elections.
The party will hold its eagerly-anticipated congress from May 24 to 26, where a new party leadership will be chosen — including the substantive successor to Tsvangirai — who died on Valentine’s Day last year after losing his brave battle against cancer of the colon.
The party’s charismatic interim leader, Nelson Chamisa, who narrowly lost to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in last year’s historic elections, is likely to face competition from Elias Mudzuri and Mwonzora at the congress.
Mwonzora said there was no doubt that if Tsvangirai was still alive, he would not countenance the present state of the MDC, where narrow agendas were marring the run-up to the congress.
“I know Tsvangirai hated the vitriol which some party members direct at each other.
“He won’t be too pleased to learn, even where he is, that there are party members who are using hate language against other party members. Tsvangirai wanted a united, democratic party that always looks to and pays attention to its glorious founding values,” Mwonzora said.
He said preparations for the MDC’s congress, which he said had initially taken off “to a good start”, were now being marred by allegations of violence and “other barbaric acts” by some party members.
“The preparations for congress were going on well. However, we have now received reports of violence, intimidation and discrimination on the basis of people who supported me in 2014.
We have had to deal with congress-related suspensions and expulsions at lower structures. If all these things are true, then it is wrong, unfair, anachronistic to the party and therefore totally unacceptable. I hope the organising, elections and chairpersons’ departments bring the reports on these issues to our next Standing Committee meeting,” Mwonzora added of the current restructuring exercise which has caused serious divisions in the party.
Last week, disgruntled party members claimed that some senior MDC officials were imposing dodgy structures in the party along factional lines, to further their personal interests. They said this had created serious problems, to the extent that MDC organising secretary Amos Chibaya was “agonising” over which lists to accept from party structures, because of the chaos currently consuming the restructuring exercise.
“There is big trouble in the making because he (Chibaya) has to determine which lists to accept based on who was involved in the process.
“Parallel structures have been created in areas such as Dzivaresekwa, Kuwadzana, Zengeza East and Zengeza West.
“The main danger is that those whose lists will be rejected will be crying foul, and thus, there could be chaos at congress because these people will still come claiming to be the bona fide structures and cause chaos and fights,” a worried national executive member told our sister publication, the Daily News a fortnight ago.
Another insider confirmed to the newspaper that the restructuring of the party, particularly at the level of branches and wards, had seen supporters of Chamisa, Mudzuri and Mwonzora coming up with different lists of what they were all claiming to be bona fide members.
Claims were also increasingly being made that Chamisa, Mudzuri and Mwonzora were separately seeking to influence the outcome of the restructuring exercise since elected officials would form the electoral college at the coming congress.
“This is what is causing the chaos in several provinces such as Mashonaland East, Chitungwiza, Harare and Masvingo, where there is serious infighting.
“The divisions are also emanating from claims that there are attempts to push out some members who are allegedly not loyal to Chamisa. Because of all this, disgruntled members are now also threatening to derail the restructuring exercise in protest,” the insider said.
Mwonzora told the Daily News on Sunday that it was his wish to see the country’s largest opposition party by far re-admitting disgruntled members such as former MDC deputy leader Thokozani Khupe — who quit the party in a huff last year ahead of the July 30 national elections.
“The MDC family must come together without conditions. Thokozani Khupe was … Tsvangirai’s longest-serving deputy, who possesses an internal party memory that we cannot just ignore.
“In terms of the transgressions of all the people who split from the main MDC at one time or the other, one cannot argue that Thokozani transgressed more than the others. I think all the MDC members must come back and prosecute the struggle together as Tsvangirai had fought to achieve in his life,” Mwonzora said.
The MDC was hit by power struggles shortly after the death of Tsvangirai, when Chamisa assumed the reins of the party ahead of his rivals — albeit, under controversial circumstances.
The 41-year-old was accused of having allegedly used his then assumed closeness to Tsvangirai’s widow, Elizabeth, to torpedo the ambitions of the likes of Mudzuri and Khupe.
A titanic leadership battle subsequently ensued in the party, which eventually led to Khupe forming a breakaway faction — which went on to perform dismally in last year’s elections.
Chamisa ultimately prevailed over his party competitors after a consultative meeting of the MDC, which was held at its Harare headquarters — and which was attended by 639 delegates from 210 party districts — endorsed him as Tsvangirai’s interim successor and the party’s presidential candidate in the 2018 polls. Daily News