By Bernard Chiketo
MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora yesterday stunned party supporters and his rivals when he announced that he won’t be contesting interim leader Nelson Chamisa at next month’s congress.
Instead, Mwonzora said he would fight to remain in his current post which is being eyed by MDC deputy treasurer general Chalton Hwende who has so far been nominated for the post by at least four provinces.
Mwonzora said he had met and agreed with Chamisa that each would continue in their position — a statement which was backed by him during a tense meeting in Manicaland yesterday.
“I came here to say this on my own. I, Douglas Mwonzora, who comes from here, have agreed … that at the congress the president will be Chamisa.
“We also agreed that I will try to get the position of secretary-general of the party.
“President Chamisa will complete what he started and I also want to finish what I started in my position,” Mwonzora said to wild cheers.
The MDC will hold its keenly-watched congress from May 24 to 26 in Gweru, where a new party leadership will be chosen — including the substantive successor to its late and much revered late president, Morgan Tsvangirai — who died on Valentine’s Day last year after losing his brave battle against cancer of the colon.
Chamisa, who narrowly lost to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in last year’s hotly-disputed elections, was expected to face competition from Mwonzora at the congress, despite his slow start in the ongoing nomination process by party structures.
The charismatic youthful opposition leader had by yesterday bagged six nominations from six provinces with Mwonzora failing to get one.
Still to make their nominations are South Africa, the United Kingdom, Manicaland, Masvingo, Harare and Bulawayo.
Yesterday, Chamisa told the Daily News in an exclusive interview that Mwonzora’s change of heart showed maturity on the part of his respected secretary-general.
“At the end of the day we are not at war. We are a very mature democracy and we look at what is good for the party.
“We know we have our own issues that we need to deal with.
“You can see the mood of the people. It’s very clear this is what the people want. They want to see us focused and having a successful congress,” Chamisa said.
However, Chamisa has been accused of manipulating party structures to elbow out supporters of his rivals — allegations which he has strongly denied.
The MDC congress is facing challenges as two groups of disgruntled members, have in separate applications, petitioned the High Court to stop next month gathering which they argue violates the party’s constitution.
One group of disaffected party supporters is determined to stop next month’s congress and to also have Chamisa stripped of his current leadership powers, as it says the planned gathering violates the MDC constitution.
In their court application, the disgruntled members who first filed a challenge want Chamisa to relinquish his current position as interim MDC boss, and to revert to his former position where he was one of the party’s three vice presidents.
They are arguing that in terms of the MDC’s constitution, an extraordinary congress should have been held a year after the death of Tsvangirai — instead of next month — to elect a new party leader.
Another group filed a separate High Court application at the weekend, also seeking to stop the congress which has divided the country’s largest opposition party. Daily News