And as these mindless wars rumble on, police arrested MDC Alliance vice presidents Tendai Biti and Lynette Karenyi-Kore yesterday – as emotions boiled over regarding the control of the hugely symbolic Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House.
This comes as interim MDC leader Thokozani Khupe and rival Nelson Chamisa have been at each other’s throats ever since the party’s much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, died in February 2018.
The fights took a turn for the worse after the Supreme Court upheld an earlier High Court ruling in March, which had nullified Chamisa’s hotly-disputed ascendancy to the helm of the MDC following Tsvangirai’s death.
On Thursday, the ugly ructions went a notch up after Khupe’s group was allegedly assisted by security forces to seize control of the party’s headquarters – in the latest blow to befall Chamisa and his embattled allies.
But reinstated MDC secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora, dismissed the allegations that they had taken control of MRT House – formerly known as Harvest House – with the aid of police and soldiers.
“There was a handover and takeover of Harvest House between the security that was there and the security that is now in charge.
“They (Chamisa camp) tried to use violence to resist the takeover by using youths led by Denford Ngadziore.
“When police, who were enforcing Covid-19 lockdown regulations reacted, that was when (Chalton) Hwende arrived, commanding a ragtag army of their vanguard (youths).
“So, their interaction with the police had absolutely nothing to do with us,” Mwonzora told the Daily News.
On her part, MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere claimed that Khupe and her allies had enlisted the services of soldiers, who had allegedly assaulted youths who were guarding the building.
“At approximately 10pm on the 4th of June 2020, a truckload of armed soldiers and police officers assisted 20 youths to forcibly gain entry into the MDC Alliance headquarters, Harvest House.
“The soldiers severely assaulted our security personnel who were manning the building,” she said.
“The MDC-Alliance maintains its rightful position as the occupants of Harvest House and will not allow such underhanded and patently unlawful seizure of its property.
“The use of the armed forces to settle personal squabbles must be condemned in the strongest way possible by all pro-democratic forces,” Mahere added.
“In fact, the very nature of this violent act lays bare the malicious and anti-freedom dynamics that are threatening the very fibre of our political landscape.
“Under what capacity have the armed forces been deployed to Harvest House and by what provision of law are they interfering with civilian matters?
“The attempt to take over the assets of our political party will be resisted. We are in the process of taking steps to restore possession and control of the building,” Mahere said further.
Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said last night that he was not aware of the alleged involvement of police officers.
Meanwhile, several MDC Alliance members – including Biti and Karenyi-Kore – were arrested when they attempted to enter MRT House yesterday.
“The police arrested about six leaders of the MDC Alliance including vice presidents Tendai Biti and Lynette Karenyi-Kore, David Chimhini (deputy secretary general), Lovemore Chinoputsa, Gladys Hlatywayo and others when they attempted to enter Harvest House.
“We are not sure why they have been arrested because we have rights as MDC Alliance to the building,” Mahere said.
The takeover of Harvest House by the Khupe camp came days after the MDC’s interim leadership expelled Chamisa from the strife-torn party.
The expulsion means that Chamisa no longer has the option to contest the party’s leadership at its extraordinary congress that is tentatively scheduled for July 31 – effectively leaving him with no other choice but to form his own party if he still has political ambitions.
In a letter to Chamisa dated June 1, Khupe summarily dismissed the charismatic politician from the MDC for having allegedly violated the party’s constitutional provisions.
This follows a March Supreme Court ruling which annulled Chamisa’s hotly-disputed ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC following the death of its much-loved founding father, Tsvangirai, in 2018.
The Supreme Court ruling meant that Chamisa had, on paper, reverted to being the secretary for policy and research in the party – the position he held before Tsvangirai unilaterally elevated him and Elias Mudzuri to the MDC presidium.
This, in turn, came after Chamisa had announced several changes to the top echelons of the MDC Alliance a fortnight ago – a party he claims is not the same as the MDC left behind by Tsvangirai.
Adding to the escalating pressure on Chamisa was a recent High Court ruling which dismissed an application that had been filed by his allies, seeking an order to stop Khupe from recalling more party MPs from Parliament
This came after the Khupe group successfully recalled Hwende (Kuwadzana), Tabitha Khumalo (MDC proportional representative), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura) and Midlands senator Lillian Timveos from Parliament recently, as it flexed its muscles and demonstrated that it is fully in charge of the beleaguered party for now.
Meanwhile, political analysts have warned that the MDC risked losing relevance in the country if it continues on its self-destructive path.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, warned both Khupe and Chamisa yesterday that they risked receiving a heavy shellacking by Zanu-PF in the 2023 elections.
“The opposition is in disarray. Zanu-PF can claim that it is a mere spectator in all this but … its fingerprints are all over the place.
“It is not, however, like they want to dismember the opposition. Rather, they want to throw as many cats among the pigeons as possible, to sow seeds of discord until 2023.
“It must be noted that while Zanu-PF is incompetent in running economic affairs, it has fancy footwork in political affairs.
“They are masters. It will take time for the opposition to heal,” Masunungure told the Daily News.