Chamisa, Nepotism and tribalism

By Nobleman Runyanga

Early this week Zimbabweans woke up to some very disturbing news – the nepotism which is rife at Town House as some MDC members of the Harare City Council are using their positions as councillors to recruit their relatives.

In a development that buttressed growing perceptions that the MDC is not only corrupt but also disintegrating, another sad MDC story broke out hours after the expose on the rot at Harare City Council. Sources close to a member of the MDC’s top leadership have revealed that Dr Nkululeko Sibanda had been forced to quit his position as MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa’ spokesperson. He becomes the second Ndebele person within a week to fall victim to the raging tribalism which is threatening to tear the MDC apart.

The resignation of the party spokesperson, Daniel Molokele last week under unclear circumstances lends credence to Chamisa’s anti-Ndebele crusade in the MDC. Despite appointing Molokele to the position, sources at Harvest House pointed out that he led in baselessly and unfairly frustrating Molokele until he resigned from his position. Reports now indicate that Molokele’s deputy, Luke Tamborinyoka is likely to replace him. Tamborinyoka is originally from Masvingo, Chamisa’s home province.

Just before the 30 July 2018 polls which Chamisa lost, there was a lot of grumbling as many disgruntled members felt that during the primary election stage he was systematically routing out people of the Ndebele ethnic group in favour of the Karanga extraction mainly from Masvingo province in general and Gutu District, his home district, in particular.

 Targeting amaNdebele

Chamisa started his tenure at the helm of the MDC on a very bad note. When the former party leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai passed on in February last year, everyone anticipated that the sole Congress-elected vice president of the party, Dr Thokozani Khupe would naturally succeed Tsvangirai temporarily pending the next elective congress but Chamisa had different ideas.

Chamisa literary tore to shreds the party’s internal democracy rule book by convening witching hour meetings with some senior party members to hound Khupe out of the race for Harvest House. What pained most people was how Chamisa not only callously targeted a woman at a time that the country had enshrined in the constitution in 2013 a 10-year clause to encourage more women to participate in politics through proportional representation programme, but also targeted a Ndebele politician.

But the world had not seen anything yet. The ensuing onslaught on poor Khupe was disproportionate to the innocent target. Chamisa armed with the MDC militia, the Vanguard, went all out against Khupe as though he was fighting an armed rebel group in the league of Boko Haram of Nigeria or Al Shabab of Somalia.

During Tsvangirai’s funeral the whole world was taken aback when the MDC militia hounded Khupe and then secretary general of the party, Douglas Mwonzora into a thatched rondavel at the Tsvangirai rural homestead and had to be rescued by the police from the marauding MDC youths who were about to torch their refuge building. The sources have also said that that Mwonzora was a victim of tribalism.

As if this was not enough, Chamisa dispatched the violent Vanguard in March last year to Bulawayo to force Khupe out of the party’s offices in the city. Khupe lost the offices, her Landover Discovery motor vehicle was badly damaged while her driver was injured.

Elbowing out Prof Ncube

Done with Dr Khupe, Chamisa set his sights on getting another Ndebele out of the race. During Tsvangirai’s last days he assigned Chamisa to oversee the MDC Alliance which he (Tsvangirai had been nursing from as far back as 2016) and the third vice president, Elias Mudzuri to lead the MDC party while he nursed his illness. The alliance brought with it other competitors such as Prof Welshman Ncube who had disagreed with Tsvangirai over the 2005 senatorial elections leading to him leaving to form a splinter party MDC-N.

The thrust and rationale of the alliance was to make the most of the numbers of individual opposition political parties’ memberships. Therein lay Chamisa’s cause for sleeplessness. Founding MDC leaders such as Prof Ncube presented a serious threat to Chamisa’s ambitions. Yes, some young people preferred him to elderly leaders like Prof Ncube but he wanted to be double sure of his chances to secure the highest seat at Harvest House. The MDC has always enjoyed some measure of support in Bulawayo and the Matabeleland region which explains why he manipulated the pre-Congress processes to ensure that Prof Ncube would not be nominated.

A source who spoke to The Chronicle in April this year commented that “if you look at the Prof Ncube issue, it is clear that the Bulawayo nomination was meant to embarrass him. Never has it happened in the history of the party that a vice president is snubbed by the province he hails from only to be nominated by other provinces.”

This was Chamisa’s machinations calculated to systematically remove some Ndebele leaders from positions of authority and influence so that he could plant his own people mostly from his home province of Masvingo. It is not a secret that Prof Ncube had to contribute 10 head of cattle towards the elective congress held in May this year in Gweru to be allowed to “win” one of the vice president positions.

The negative reaction of the people of the region also contributed to his change of heart regarding Prof Ncube. They did not mince their words regarding his divisive politics. They openly told him of how he was destroying the party in the region.

Window dressing

It is now a public secret that Chamisa is only keeping people of Ndebele ethnic group such as MDC chairperson, Tabitha Khumalo in their positions for fear the definite backlash that the move could invite otherwise his wish is to fill all senior party positions with Shona people preferably those from Masvingo. Khumalo is only being retained as a window dresser chairperson from the Matabeleland region to appease and keep in check the Ndebele constituency which is growing restive and impatient with him. However, her days are numbered as she is targeted for demotion from the position of Chairperson.

Less than two years into his leadership of the MDC, the people of the Matabeleland region are already fed up with him because of his tribal tendencies. They are already missing Tsvangirai who was more mature, open-minded and accommodative of Zimbabweans from various backgrounds.