A ‘defining moment’ for Chamisa, MDC Alliance

Nelson Chamisa

WITH pressure mounting on its leaders all round, insiders say the MDC Alliance has reached a critical point where tough decisions now have to be made about its future.

This comes as both Zanu PF and the main opposition MDC led by Douglas Mwonzora are cranking up the heat on the alliance’s leaders, amid a biting resources drought that is making planning for the crucial 2023 polls difficult.

It also comes as the divisions that have been ravaging the alliance over the past two years are worsening, with some hawks in the coalition said to sharpening their knives against one of the pact’s leading lights, Tendai Biti.

As if to drive the point home about the alliance’s deepening troubles, Mwonzora’s spokesperson Lloyd Damba also asserted in an interview with the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that there was “only one MDC” and that the alliance was now led by his boss.

“There is only one MDC in this country. The MDC Alliance is not a single political party but a conglomerate of seven parties which are led by the MDC that was led Morgan Tsvangirai.

“In Article 1 of the Composite Political Co-operation Agreement, known as the MDC Alliance Agreement, the parties agreed that the name of the coalition would be called the MDC Alliance.

“The MDC-T was the largest component among the seven coalition partners … the parties also agreed to operate as independent parties … The MDC Alliance Agreement goes further to state that whoever is the leader of the MDC-T shall become the leader of the MDC Alliance,” Damba said.

“In other words, the current leader of the MDC Alliance is now president Douglas Mwonzora … This agreement is due to expire in 2023 because it has a life-span of five years, and so it’s still operational.

“So, make no mistake about who is the MDC  and MDC Alliance leader. It is  Douglas Mwonzora,” he added.

An MDC Alliance insider who spoke to the Daily News On Sunday admitted yesterday that the coalition had reached a pivotal point where difficult decisions now had to be made.

“Things are very rough right now. With everyone aiming their guns at us and funding still a problem, we have reached a defining moment where we have no choice but to take difficult decisions now.

“Any more dithering on all the outstanding issues that need to be resolved could spell disaster for the party. As you have seen, our enemies are not relenting.

“Top of the issues that we have to decide on now, for me, is a new name for our party as we need to break away from the mess that the MDC name has become, while also assuring tired supporters that we have a viable plan going forward,” the senior alliance official said.

“Secondly, we must learn to manage leadership differences better going forward as we have tended to always open up easy attack corridors for our enemies through our unnecessary internal bickering.

“Lastly, we need to start raising money fast and in a sustainable way as 2023 is now around the corner, also accepting the harsh reality that Zanu PF will never give us back our money that they are giving to Dougie (Mwonzora),” the insider added.

In the meantime, alliance vice president Biti is being accused by his internal foes of allegedly competing with Chamisa.

This comes after the United States of America (USA) recently condemned Biti’s recall from Parliament by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — something Washington did not do when similar fate befell other MDC Alliance bigwigs before that.

Another alliance insider told the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that a number of perceived Chamisa allies were upset that the US was showing that they respected Biti more in the alliance — a sentiment that became very apparent during a recent national standing committee meeting of the pact.

All this also comes as political analysts have warned that the country’s opposition, and especially the MDC Alliance, risks being decimated completely ahead of the 2023 elections — unless it changes its modus operandi.

It also comes as the Daily News On Sunday and its sister paper the Daily News have been lone independent voices in calling out the increasingly suicidal tendencies of opposition parties and their leaders — to the detriment of the country and its citizens.

Respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, was among those who said recently that the MDC Alliance, in particular, now needed to re-strategise to avoid implosion.

“The MDC Alliance as a parliamentary entity has been completely annihilated given the number of legislators it has lost so far, especially considering now that it has lost its big guns, including its vice president Tendai Biti.

“This leaves it in a very precarious position. Considering also that there is a parallel process of mass defections to Zanu PF and the internal convulsions in the party, there is scope for re-configuration.

“It would be dangerous for the party leadership to continue with a ‘business as usual’ approach because … there is no guarantee that Nelson Chamisa’s popularity will not start to be affected negatively as well,” Masunungure told the Daily News.

“The only realistic way out of this is fashioning out a new entity altogether with a new name, taking advantage of the fact that we are still two years away from the next election.

“What will happen to this party will surely depend on what the leadership does and what it does not do,” he added.

Another highly regarded academic, Professor of World Politics at the London School of Oriental and African Studies (OAS),  Stephen Chan, also warned that Chamisa could find it difficult to win back the parliamentary seats that he has lost if by-elections were held at some point.

“The question is whether he still has the funds and the people to organise a well-run series of constituency campaigns.

“If his own former MPs were not good constituency MPs, he would have a reduced foundation for seeking support from the people.

“Ensuring that their MPs performed well at constituency level has always been a fault of whatever version of the MDC party that has been in Parliament,” Chan told the Daily News.

But MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson, Clifford Hlatywayo, said at the time that the coalition would not be changing its name as some people want it to.

“Last year we had nationwide consultative processes on a number of issues. The people unequivocally said no to a change of name.

“We are the MDC Alliance and we remain so. That’s the stance and position we were given by the people.

“MDC Alliance is a party of the people. Everything we do is informed by what the owners of the struggle decide on their movement,” Hlatywayo told the Daily News.

But sources inside the alliance said yesterday that a change of name of the coalition “is imminent”.

“I think the party is just managing perceptions and also waiting for the right moment to announce its new name and programmes.

“Remember, this is not an easy task as this may mean dissociating itself completely from the MDC of Tsvangirai, while the leadership decks may also require changing.

“So, the leaders are just being careful and also sounding out the public. But the change of name is a given. It’s now a matter of when, not whether,” one of the sources told the Daily News On Sunday.