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Crucial week for Chamisa's MDC

by Staff reporter
08 Apr 2019 at 07:17hrs | Views
THE MDC has entered a crucial week after it set the ball rolling on provincial nominations for the party's national leadership over the weekend, ahead of next month's do-or-die elective congress.

Coming against the background of intense jostling for positions within the main opposition party, the congress scheduled to run from May 24 to 26 will either make or break the 20-year-old party.

The provincial nominations are likely to settle or complicate the long-standing rivalry between MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora as they go head-to-head for control of the party.

Failure to secure a nomination would spell doom for either party.

In the event that both candidates are nominated, congress delegates will then settle the matter next month.

Political analysts canvassed by the Daily News said the nomination process is crucial, considering the ugly scenes of violence that characterised the process in Chitungwiza, where suspected Chamisa supporters were involved in bloody clashes with Mwonzora's followers.

Political analyst Admire Mare said it is important that the MDC conducts its congress in the most professional, credible and free manner so that the leadership elected at the congress has legitimacy and mandate to drive the ship towards 2023.

"Unfortunately, incidences of political violence and name calling have scuttled the build-up to the first congress since the death of the doyen of democracy within the party … Tsvangirai.

"One can view these issues as a teething problem in the transition towards the post Morgan Richard Tsvangirai politics in terms of opposition politics in Zimbabwe.

The unfinished business of succession continues to rear its ugly head despite Nelson Chamisa's incredible showing in the last election," Mare said. Chaos has already marred some of the processes preceding congress, the first since the death of the party's founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai died on February 14 last year, after a long battle with cancer of the colon. As the process gathers momentum, the United Kingdom branch set the ball rolling on Saturday, after it came up with its own list of nominations.

According to the party's spokesperson Jacob Mafume, the process is set to continue and expected to be finalised within three weeks.

The UK branch has nominated Chamisa for president, Morgen Komichi (vice president), Welshman Ncube (vice president), Lilian Timveos (vice president), Tabitha Khumalo (chairperson), Happymore Chidziva (deputy chairperson), Chalton Hwende (secretary-general), Settlement Chikwinya (deputy secretary-general), David Coltart (treasurer), Rusty Markum (deputy treasurer), Amos Chibaya (organising secretary) and Mafume (national spokesperson).

Aware that nothing is guaranteed in politics, the bigwigs in the MDC seeking to retain their positions or snatch "safe posts" are said to be reviewing their interests - which has seen pacts being made ahead of the congress next month.

Already, Chamisa is said to have cut a deal with vice president Elias Mudzuri, so that the two will not contest each other in the forthcoming congress. This leaves Mwonzora as Chamisa's only possible contender. The Daily News can report that re-alignments and "marriages of convenience" between senior party officials and new blood are being formed ahead of the May gathering.

The re-alignments and pacts are also reportedly informed by whether or not the bigwigs' supporters landed influential positions in the lower structures of the party since they form the Electoral College at the congress.

Political analyst Piers Pigou said the credibility of the nomination and delegate process in the MDC is under spotlight and that whoever prevails must be able to show that violence and other unconstitutional behaviour has not advantaged them.

"What we have witnessed thus far is not encouraging and illustrates a culture of intolerance remain alive and kicking inside the MDC. This must be distinguished from the acceptable norms of political disagreement and competition. "Sadly, elements of the MDC's leadership appear to have enabled this situation, compounded by a failure of key elements in the senior leadership to give unambiguous direction on these matters," Pigou said.

Analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the forthcoming congress is important in that it will put to rest the legitimacy issue within the MDC. "If Chamisa wins, it puts to rest his legitimacy questions as the leader of that party. If Mwonzora loses, he goes down as a true democrat who believes that power must be contested.

I don't believe Mwonzora's political life will die after a loss; in fact Zimbabwe lacks politicians like him who focus on issues and middle ground. This enabled him to lead the constitutional review process," he said.

Another political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said his take is that while Chamisa is almost a step into the office of the leadership after the congress, he still needs to reach out to all those who are contesting him and all those who are interested in other positions in the party.

"Those who are contesting Chamisa at this moment, it could be Douglas Mwonzora, it could be whoever, they tend to benefit from the negative perception of the party, because essentially the MDC and Nelson Chamisa are synonymous. He is the person who has taken the MDC to where it is right now after the death of Morgan Tsvangirai and any negative perceptions on the party are largely a negative also on his name," he said.

Source - Daily News