Sunday 15 March 2020


THE MDC is blowing hot and cold on its plans to stage rolling mass actions against President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his government and Zanu PF, the Daily News On Sunday can reveal.

This comes as ructions consuming the party continue to escalate, resulting in under pressure leader Nelson Chamisa telling his disgruntled lieutenants last week to leave the organisation if they wish, while his restless supporters also battered each other in strife-torn Masvingo.

It also comes as MDC secretary general Chalton Hwende — who stands accused of being among those pushing for the expulsion of some of the party’s long-serving senior officials — has said bluntly that the MDC led by Chamisa is very different from the one founded by its revered late icon, Morgan Tsvangirai.

 Well-placed sources told the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that a tense meeting in Harare of the party’s national standing committee on Tuesday had “skirted around” the issue of the long-mooted mass demonstrations against Mnangagwa and his government — at a time when life is getting tougher for ordinary Zimbabweans, and disenchanted youths are pushing for a radical approach to the MDC’s dealings with the government.

 “The meeting was very disappointing on this critical matter, and it was clear that most of the leadership has no appetite to take on ED robustly. In the end, the party deferred the anticipated announcement of dates for the mass actions to May,” a senior party official said.

A statement released by the party after the meeting was short on details, choosing only to say that the MDC still planned to mount mass protests, without giving concrete time frames and modalities.

Giving more details about the goings-on at last week’s national standing committee meeting, another senior MDC official said so high were emotions that Chamisa even recused himself from chairing the event — as bigwigs such as Hwende apparently bayed for the blood of the party’s under-siege deputy secretary for international affairs, Douglas Mwonzora.

The task of leading the meeting was delegated to one of the party’s vice presidents, Welshman Ncube, who is said to have tried his best to keep the gathering “focused on pertinent issues”.

Hwende declined to comment on what transpired at the meeting, but said only three officials could speak on behalf of the party.

“The constitution is very clear that the people who can speak for the party are the president, the secretary general and the spokesperson. That is all I can say,” he said.

But another MDC official said Tuesday’s meeting was “far from being cordial” as Mwonzora and Hwende allegedly locked horns, with the latter pushing for the former’s expulsion from the party for being “indisciplined” and on account of untested allegations that he could be working with Zanu PF.

Mwonzora, like Hwende, also declined to give his side of the story when he was contacted by the Daily News On Sunday.

“Speak to the relevant officials in the party. I have no comment to make,” was all he would say.

“Mwonzora went on the offensive, defending himself strongly in the fiery meeting. He also demanded answers on the links between the party and G40 kingpins like (former Higher Education minister) Jonathan Moyo. In the end, no one could find anything substantive against Mwonzora or (Morgen) Komichi, even though there had been claims that there were telephone recordings of Mwonzora and Komichi saying negative things about the party’s leadership.

“When Mwonzora was accused of speaking to the media without party approval, he said he was defending himself against attacks from Jonathan Moyo, who is not a member of the party,” the second official who spoke to the Daily News On Sunday said.

“At that point, he (Mwonzora) asked officials to explain the role of Moyo in the party, but there was no satisfactory response from anyone. Hwende, who is close to Chamisa, wanted Mwonzora to be expelled from the party summarily, but did not receive support from most of the gathered officials, who called for due process to be followed.

“It was also clear that Mwonzora came to the meeting prepared for a fight, and it was also very clear that he was even prepared to be expelled,” the official added.

All this comes as the MDC is witnessing growing chaos and factionalism within its structures — some of which has readily been admitted to by the party itself and ascribed to leadership incompetence.

This has seen the party in Bulawayo last week banning mayor Solomon Mguni and five councillors from accessing the provincial headquarters after they renewed town clerk Christopher Dube’s contract for another five years.
 MDC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, Swithern Chirowodza, confirmed the ban of the councillors, saying they would only be allowed to access the party’s Getrude Mthombeni House if they reverse the decision to renew Dube’s contract.

“The MDC Bulawayo provincial executive dissociates itself from the decision by some councillors to renew Dube’s contract while his current contract is still running, without consulting the party. MDC councillors were deployed by the party to implement MDC party policies … These five councillors and the mayor have shown that they are now in bed with Zanu PF, hence they must now stop reporting to us, but to their new found parent.

“Starting with being physically barred from accessing Getrude Mthombeni House, the concerned councillors will face further censure from the party,” Chirowodza said.
 He added that the party was against the extension of Dube’s contract as the town clerk was allegedly pushing

“elitist policies” that could threaten the MDC’s vote in the 2023 elections.
 He accused Dube of allegedly forwarding the council’s 2020 budget to the Local Government ministry for approval, which saw city rates going up by a whopping 716 percent.

The budget was sent for approval despite local residents having unanimously objected to the proposed rates. Dube joined the Bulawayo City Council in October 2016, and his contract was expected to lapse at the end of September this year.

Speaking through his spokesperson Nkululelo Sibanda last week, Chamisa denied that there was factionalism in the party — although he admitted that some of the party’s leaders might be Trojan horses that were allegedly being used by outsiders to “create a non-existent reality”.

“These people are creating a crisis yet there is no crisis. There is a danger that some of our leaders are being used to create a non-existent reality.

“We have people who are lying to Zanu PF that they could destabilise the party. But I can tell you that people are missing the point because there is no factionalism in the MDC. There is no one who can challenge the president and some of the people involved are small fish,” Sibanda told the Daily News On Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News.

Hwende was even more blunt, saying it had to be appreciated that the party led by Chamisa was different from the one founded by Tsvangirai.

“We are now the MDC Alliance. It is clear that these are two different entities, and those who want to leave are free to do so.

“We had our congress and people in the MDC Alliance expressed themselves freely. Those who want to leave can leave,” he said.

An MDC national executive committee member who spoke to the Daily News then said at the heart of the party’s ructions was the impending Supreme Court ruling — which was lodged by supporters of the opposition party’s former vice president Thokozani Khupe, who is seeking to have the court nullify Chamisa’s initial contested appointment by Tsvangirai as one of its other vice presidents.

This comes after the High Court ruled last year that Chamisa’s elevation to lead the MDC was illegal — throwing the cat among the pigeons in the party. Daily News


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