Thursday 7 May 2020


WITH their rivals in apparent disarray following the recent Supreme Court ruling and Tuesday’s dramatic events in Parliament, the interim MDC leadership is moving swiftly to press home its advantage by taking over the party’s national headquarters in Harare, the Daily News reports.

Amid threats of violence by pro-Nelson Chamisa youths who have declared Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House a no-go area for the charismatic politi–  cian’s advancing foes, the MDC’s Thokozani Khupe-led interim leadership is enlisting the services of law enforcement agents to allow them to take over the iconic and hugely symbolic building. 

This comes after Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda sanctioned the expulsion of four pro-Chamisa legislators on Tuesday — namely Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Tabitha Khumalo (proportional representative), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura) and Midlands senator Lilian Timveos, on the basis that the quartet had ceased to be members of the MDC-T.

This followed a recent Supreme Court ruling which annulled Chamisa’s MDC presidency and also directed that Khupe convenes within three months an extraordinary congress — using 2014 structures — to elect a new party leader.

In a letter to the officer commanding Harare, the interim party leadership says they have been left with little choice but to enlist the services of the police to take over MRT House, formerly known as Harvest House.

“Before the congress process starts, we need to convene meetings of the national standing committee, national executive committee and the national council at the party headquarters.

“Unfortunately, and because of Covid-19 problems, we have lost a month already and need to start work as soon as possible.

“Furthermore, the previous administration has between 15 and 35 youths at the premises vowing to resist the occupation of the premises by the new leadership as confirmed by the Supreme Court,” reinstated secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said in his recent letter to the police.

“They (the pro-Chamisa youths) are armed with all manner of crude weapons. In the face of the Covid-19 problem they also pose a serious health risk to members of the public.

“They also pose a serious health risk to our workers when the lockdown is over. We therefore need to fumigate the whole building before use of same.

“The previous administration has promised violence in the event that we come to occupy the premises. In fact they have sent their youths to threaten that there will be a ‘bloodbath’ should we attempt to enter the building,” Mwonzora added.

He also said many of these unruly youths were in the same group that had harassed and harangued Khupe at the funeral of Tsvangirai in Buhera in 2018 — which, therefore, necessitated the intervention of the police.

The interim MDC leadership also wants the police to “sweep” the premises so that they are free of any illegal or dangerous items, while also maintaining law and order there so that there are no disturbances going forward.

“(The police should) help us get entry into specific offices, including the president, national chairman, secretary-general, organising secretary and treasurer-general’s office and doing any other things that will help in maintaining law and order in the premises.

“In anticipation of the lack of co-operation by the other parties, we may engage the services of a locksmith to gain entry into certain offices. We will also appoint a small team to liaise with the police from time to time,” Mwonzora said further in his letter.

This comes as pressure continues to mount on Chamisa and his close allies, as more and more party officials join the interim party leaders.

And making matters worse for Chamisa, who has been battling to pay workers at MRT House, is that the $7,5 million due to the opposition party under the Political Parties (Finance) Act is going to the Khupe group.

The minister of Justice, Ziyambi Ziyambi, recently confirmed this development to the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News On Sunday.

A senior party official loyal to Chamisa told the Daily News last night that there was growing despondency among the youthful politician’s followers because of the apparent “lack of a fighting spirit, courage and strategy” on the part of the MDC Alliance.

“When the president (Chamisa) appealed to the Supreme Court we all wondered what he was doing. Unfortunately, it has been downhill since then and all our fears are being realised.

“What is worse is that we are not telling supporters what we are going to do in response to the current onslaught, which is causing them to feel helpless and abandoned,” the official said.

In the meantime, top allies of Chamisa are fuming, accusing Khupe of allegedly hobnobbing with Zanu PF in a bid to emasculate the country’s main opposition party.

MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti has also vowed to resist any attempts by the Khupe faction to grab MRT House.

“The illegal recall of our MDC Alliance MPs … is reflective of how paranoid and desperate Emmerson is in using the State to destroy our movement led by president Nelson Chamisa.

“We are MDC Alliance, nothing else. We have never been cowards. We have never yielded on matters of principle. We have been in the trenches for decades.

“We shall finish off what we started in 1999. So Mr Mnangagwa, nothing you do will make us retreat or surrender. Not your guns, not your Parliament,” Biti said.

Meanwhile, respected lawyer David Hofisi has called for unity and a sober approach from the MDC’s leaders for the party’s deepening infighting.

“Robert Mugabe always asserted that he was not concerned with Morgan Tsvangirai but his handlers in Britain and the USA. The Chamisa camp has adopted the same approach.

“Nothing that is done by Dr Khupe is taken as an exercise of agency by an independent and determined woman. Rather, it is interpreted as evidence of a big man behind her throne.

“Let us take a step back and consider that when Morgan Tsvangirai recalled Tendai Biti and others in 2014, Parliament complied. When Nelson Chamisa recalled Thokozani Khupe in 2018, Parliament complied.

“It is only now that it is people from the Chamisa camp that are recalled that parliamentary compliance with notification of recall is labelled fascist and unacceptable — a jaw-dropping double standard,” Hofisi wrote in an opinion.

“Polad has been presented as evidence that Dr Khupe is a Zanu PF pawn. This is the same argument that was used against Professor Welshman Ncube, David Coltart and others in 2005, with Polad being the contemporary equivalent of the Senate. These appeals to Zanu PF are unhelpful.

“They take away individual agency, ignore independent decision and unduly credit Zanu PF as an omniscient, omnipotent political player.

“Whilst this is effective at discrediting members of the opposition, it builds a perception of Zanu PF invincibility as the ultimate chess player that is always 10 moves ahead of the main opposition.

“This lauds Zanu PF for a tactical nous it does not possess, whilst entrenching partisanship through reductionist reading of everything as a simplistic binary of pro/anti Zanu PF,” Hofisi added.

In terms of the way forward, he said the current situation highlighted the limitations of “headstrong defiance as a strategy to deal with adverse court rulings”.

“It is a reminder that reality cannot simply be spoken into existence. Rather, it should remind popular leaders to actually show leadership.

“It was only after Morgan Tsvangirai lost in the 2013 elections that he thawed relations with Welshman Ncube and was open to forming a coalition.

“What will it take for his successor to similarly realise that opposition forces are stronger together? Those who call these internecine battles a distraction are absolutely correct.

“It is a zero sum game: every moment spent fighting opposition members is at the expense of confronting the national crises. Leadership surely involves more than securing millions of votes,” Hofisi said.

“It must be inclusive and bring people together — even those viewed as highly objectionable. The MDC Alliance is Morgan Tsvangirai’s legacy and it would behove his successor to make that tent a little bigger, if only for the sake of the democratic movement.

“If that cannot be done, we shall be treated to an endless spiral of factional confrontations which have little to no effect on Zanu PF’s dominance of local politics,” he added. Daily News


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