by Elijah Chihota
The MDC, just like the Titanic ship, is inevitably and surely sinking. When the party was formed in 1999, it gave false promises to people and cosmetically appeared as if it had all the important cards on its chest to turnaround the country’s economy at the drop of a hat. 20 years down the line, the MDC party like the Titanic is sinking slowly while those on board are enjoying themselves in blissful ignorance.
After the death of Morgan Tsvangirai, the party was embroiled in ugly and nasty succession wrangles. The succession wars pitted the party’s then Co-Vice Presidents Nelson Chamisa, Dr Thokozani Khupe and Engineer Elias Mudzuri. All dirty tactics, which almost claimed the life of Dr Khupe and then Secretary General, Douglas Mwonzora, were used as youths aligned to Chamisa vowed to burn down a hut in which the two sought refuge.
G40 and the 2018 elections
Last month, the former Sunday Mail editor, Edmund Kudzayi revealed that Professor Jonathan Moyo alongside other G40 kingpins such as Patrick Zhuwao made financial and material contributions to the MDC’s 2018 election campaign. This demonstrates that the party has been hijacked. Prof Moyo did not even deny the role that they played in the 2018 elections rendering support to the MDC. He is the one who volunteered the information that Zhuwao had contributed US$6 000 towards the MDC’s election campaign kit. The G40 members did not want to remain in the political cold and chose the MDC as a vehicle to re-launch their political careers and eventually take over the party.
The MDC’s May 2019 elective congress in Gweru was a defining moment for the party as it showed that there were serious fissures in that party. The old guard who were at the inception of the party like Mwonzora and Mudzuri were being sidelined and the former was almost fired. This congress was a defining moment as it brought to the fore Chamisa’s true dictatorial colours and paranoid obsession with power and entrenching it. To a larger extent, Chamisa was surprised when MDC Co-Vice President, Tendai Biti landed one of the party’s vice presidents’ posts.
Chamisa brought in leaders of parties which had left the MDC to form their own parties such as Biti, Prof Welshman Ncube and Job Sikhala to create the impression that he was magnanimous and prioritised unity but was and remains uncomfortable with all of them especially Biti as they all harbour ambitions to succeed if not overthrow him. Although Mwonzora is now in a very peripheral and inconsequential position, Chamisa remains very wary of him given that the latter commands some form of support among a large number of MDC grassroots members hence the recent censure of him for speaking to the media.
Although the congress secured Chamisa the party’s top post, he remains very paranoid which has seen him suspending some mayors such as that of Victoria Falls and some provincial executives such as the one for Masvingo as he seeks to consolidate his power against the Biti faction at the expense of unity and internal democracy. This has created an MDC which is more fractious and more prone to division and splitting under Chamisa than under his predecessor, the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s stewardship.
Missing $2 million
Another very weak point about the MDC is that it makes the most noise when it comes to issues of corruption, but the party has its own very big and scary skeletons in the cupboard. Part of the funds that the MDC received last year under the Political Parties (Finances) Act amounting to $2 million dollars vanished from party coffers. Yes, it just vanished into thin air under the party which describes itself as “a party of excellence.” All fingers are now pointing to Chamisa and his Secretary General, Charlton Hwende as being the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the scam. Party members are now questioning why Chamisa helped himself to the funds yet under the party’s constitution his office is only entitled to a 20 percent allocation of the funds. This is another area which is developing into a huge crack that is threatening that party’s unity.
Media gag on Mwonzora
In a bid to put the final nail on Mwonzora’s political career, Hwende issued a final warning on Mwonzora by barring him from communicating with the media after he had commented that the MDC needed to be circumspect in its dealings with G40 elements like Prof Moyo for fear of being divided. The gag on Mwonzora directly violates Section 61 of the national Constitution which gives individuals “Freedom of expression and freedom of media”. What Hwende has done is to make sure that Mwonzora will not have a voice in the media. It is interesting that this is coming from a party which claims to be the pinnacle of constitutionalism and a champion of democracy, yet it shamelessly and baselessly muzzles its members’ constitutional rights. It is such indiscretions and arbitrary decisions that are contributing to the party’s current shaky and vulnerable status.
The year 2020 has so far witnessed the resignation of two senior MDC members namely Tracy Mutinhiri and Grace Kwinjeh. The resignations by such senior party members are ample evidence that all is not well in that party and the responsibility for that is being placed at Chamisa’s door. Mutinhiri sacrificed a deputy Ministerial post and a higher position in ZANU PF and crossed the floor to the MDC therefore, there is more to it for her to just call it a day and the same applies to Kwinjeh. There are some people especially those in Chamisa’s camp who are pushing others out of the party in order to position themselves near Chamisa for possible rich pickings off his table.
A blow to the coalition
Those who closely follow events in the MDC would vouch that MDC Co-Vice President, Prof Ncube is no longer featuring at MDC functions. This points to a collapsing coalition, and if Prof Ncube walks out of the coalition it means the MDC would have also lost the Matabeleland region vote in 2023. It would mean that Chamisa and his party would have to struggle to get solid footing in that region and to get meaningful votes will be a serious challenge.
Zimbabwe is a unitary State where the issues of tribalism and regionalism are not brooked. Surprisingly, Chamisa of all the people is running with the tribal card upsetting the party in the process. As if the absence of Prof Ncube from the MDC political space over Chamisa’s shenanigans is not enough, Chamisa stands accused of playing the tribal card. Reports are that Chamisa is plotting to oust the party’ s national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo from the post of the leader of the opposition in parliament replacing her with MDC’ s Manicaland proportional representation MP, Lynette Karenyi-Kore. The tribal card has dangers of dividing people according to ethnicity and is very dangerous in modern society.
At this rate, the MDC leadership will be singing its own version of “Nearer my God” which is locally called “Usacheuke” as their 2023 electoral ship continues to sink slowly and surely.
Last week an interesting development in the MDC unfolded when the alleged resignation of Secretary for Presidential Affairs, Morgan Komichi made circulation on social media. Komichi denied that he was resigning and said that this was the work of his internal party enemies who were now engaged in mudslinging tactics to tarnish his image.
The party is yet to confirm the resignation but Komichi’s comment shows that all is not well in the MDC camp. It all amounts to one thing: that Chamisa has secured the leadership of a party whose existence is slipping through his young and inexperienced fingers.