By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
Main opposition MDC Alliance Secretary General Chalton Hwende says the party is not prioritising changing its highly contested name but is rather focusing on electoral reforms to ensure ‘a sitting President does not come back and take the party’.
This after the MDC-T leadership led by Douglas Mwonzora, with the assistance of Zanu PF recalled over 40 MPs and more than 80 councillors countrywide, accusing them of supporting MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa despite that they contested in the 2018 elections on the Alliance ticket.
With the assistance of the police and the army, MDC-T also took over the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, the headquarters of the party in Harare, and several other party assets before threatening to contest the 2023 elections as MDC Alliance.
In an interview with Nehanda TV last Friday, Hwende said the party contested the last election using the MDC Alliance name while being an umbrella of many political parties. But it later went to congress and became a single political party under the leadership of Chamisa.
“I don’t see where the confusion is. Mwonzora and the court judgements recognised him as the leader of MDC-T. We participated in the elections as the MDC Alliance. When Mwonzora went to court over the name. He was fighting over MDC-T. We were not fighting MDC-T ourselves.
“We have always been consistent from day one that we are the MDC Alliance, a grouping that initially involved a number of different political parties that came together and registered to participate in the elections.
“After elections, we then transformed the political party into a political entity. When the parties came together, they had an intention to operate as a political party and after the election we then went for congress. Those who didn’t want to come with us to congress like for instance Cde Ngarivhume exercised that option.
“The people that wanted to come with us subjected themselves and went ahead to dissolve their entities and everybody came back under the umbrella of the MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa. So we are the MDC Alliance. We are fighting for the MDC Alliance in courts and we have a pending matter before the Supreme Court,” he explained.
Hwende said MDC Alliance supporters will decide the party name to use in the event that the Mwonzora-led MDC-T grabs their name. He said the party does not only rely on the courts but people’s decisions.
“We are not relying on the courts to help us. The MDC supporters and the people of Zimbabwe know the party that they want. We have participated before in the elections with different MDC parties contesting but ultimately the people know their true representatives.
“So we are not concerned. We are not worried because the people know the track record. They know that their leader is Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
“So when we have exhausted the legal process, at that particular point if for example the state would have succeeded in dismissing a strong case that we believe we have, it’s not about the name but what we stand for. It’s about what Advocate Chamisa represents,” Hwende added.
“When the time comes, we consult people. We send teams to ask people what is the way forward. People are very clear. They told us we must fight for the name but they also gave us an alternative that we will use if we don’t succeed because we are confident that we are winning the next election as we won in the past.”
He unpacked the seemingly sophisticated CCC: “I know that Zimbabweans can’t be confused by three letters, CCC. If you go back, CCC was a hashtag that was created by supporters of Nelson Chamisa as we went for the last election.
“So it’s in two folds; there is a CCC that was used by supporters (Chamisa Chete Chete). But we also have the CCC that comes from our 2021 agenda, the Citizens Convergence for Change.”
He said the party was concentrating on electoral reforms to make sure that the ruling party will not cripple the opposition.
“The people will determine which party name they want because if you allow Mnangagwa to take over the name for instance then you easily come back as party C, what guarantee do you have that he will not come back and take that party from you.
“What is key here is that we need to fight for reforms so that we don’t have a situation where a sitting President who is a candidate in any election determines which names political parties must use.
“If it is next week, the party is going to meet and make a decision. As I have said previously, at the last national council meeting that we had as a party, members of the MDC understood the difficulties that we have. We are operating under a military dictatorship.
“So obviously, once in a while, sometimes we insist on a particular course of action but because of the environment we operate in sometimes it’s difficult to sustain that argument. So if by-elections are called tomorrow, the party leadership will meet and decide what to do,” he said.
After controversially losing the 2018 elections to Zanu PF, the MDC Alliance has consistently suffered a lot of setbacks following defection of Mwonzora to MDC-T which was then led by Thokozani Khupe, and the recall of its members and grabbing of its assets.
But the issue of the MDC Alliance name and logo has been topical since a Supreme Court ruling in March last year that the MDC-T then led by Khupe was the original party left by late opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Nehanda Radio