MDC MPs facing a tough choice

Morgen Komichi
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SITTING MDC legislators and councillors are facing a tough choice after the party group which has embraced the recent Supreme Court ruling that dethroned Nelson Chamisa from power warned yesterday that it would not hesitate to cut loose all those who disobey the interim party leadership.

This comes as both the group loyal to the beleaguered Chamisa and those behind its new sheriffs have made conflicting claims to the Daily News that most of the party’s senior officials, legislators and councillors are behind them.

While some party officials have gone on social media to pledge their support to Chamisa – after he was found to have ascended to the MDC’s leadership illegally by both the High Court and the Supreme Court – the other group claims that most of these bigwigs were being “blackmailed”.

But well-placed sources in the Thokozani Khupe interim party leadership told the Daily News yesterday that re-instated chairperson Morgen Komichi and secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora were prepared to recall from Parliament some of Chamisa’s close lieutenants like Chalton Hwende and Prosper Mutseyami, as soon as the 21-day coronavirus lockdown ended.

Hwende and Mutseyami stand accused of “bullying and rallying” party officials, lawmakers and councillors to reject the court outcome and back Chamisa.

“I can tell you that the new leadership means business and is itching to send a very clear warning by making an example of what is in store for errant party members by recalling one or two officials from Parliament.

“They have no fight with most party bigwigs, MPs and councillors. But do not be surprised if they move on a few loudmouths to send this powerful message home about the changed circumstances,” one of the impeccable sources said.

Contacted later to confirm this, an initially guarded Mwonzora told the Daily News that while taking action against rebellious party members was not their priority, the interim MDC leadership would not hesitate to recall MPs who were brazenly engaging in “anarchy and foolish bravery” – insisting that this would not be done in a hurry or recklessly.

“It’s a tragedy that the MDC at one time found itself with a secretary-general like Hwende. He is apparently incapable of conceptual thinking.

“The Supreme Court judgement is clear and does not need to be interpreted. Hwende and those of his ilk who are engaging in acts of foolish bravery should be guided accordingly.

“The power to recall MPs, which we can use, is in our hands. We will make such a decision fairly and wisely at the appropriate time,” Mwonzora warned.

On his part, Komichi – who said that he was already preparing for the MDC’s extra-ordinary congress which should be held in the next three months – also told the Daily News that the Supreme Court’s finalisation of the party’s disputes meant that the interim leadership had the power to recall MPs and councillors.

“The MDC Alliance has no power to recall anyone because it is the MDC-T which is a key component of the Alliance that can recall MPs. We will see who wins between us and them.

“However, you should remember that we do not seek to recall anyone. I believe most councillors and MPs understand and appreciate the court’s ruling.

“By the way, we have been contacted by many MPs who are standing with us. There is not a single MP who is prepared to lose their seat and we are, therefore, not worried about the current noise,” the buoyant Komichi told the Daily News.

“I want to advise our deployees to comply with the court judgement and also to tell Chamisa to do the same, because he actually has a chance to win,” he added.

However, Hwende, who insisted that the MDC Alliance was not affected by the Supreme Court ruling, told the Daily News that he would not mind being recalled from Parliament.

“We are not moved by the issues of Parliament or whether to be an MP or not. Our people, the voters, are clear that these two people (Komichi and Mwonzora) have been co-opted by the Zanu-PF regime.

“On our part, we will talk of the fate of Mwonzora and Komichi after the lockdown. The MDC Alliance has a constitution and procedures for dealing with such issues as recalling MPs from Parliament,” he said.

“As you know, the party business is suspended because of the lockdown. The decision to recall will be decided by the organs of the party.

“I am, however, glad … people know that this is a battle between Zanu-PF and MDC and people will know who to follow,” Hwende added.

Since the apex court’s ruling, several MDC officials have gone on social media pledging their support to Chamisa and insisting that the Supreme Court judgment was allegedly “inconsequential” and “empty thunder”.

Among those who have backed Chamisa and condemned the court’s ruling are vice presidents Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, presidential affairs chief Murisi Zwizwai, treasurer-general David Coltart, legal secretary Innocent Gonese, youth chairperson Obey Sithole, women boss Paurina Mpariwa and secretary for international relations Gladys Hlatwayo.

“If you look at some of these names you will know their background in the party and how they treated and insulted our founding icon (the late Morgan Tsvangirai) over the years.

“Anyone who takes some of these people seriously needs their heads examined. For Chamisa’s own sake, some of us hope that he knows who these people are,” a senior party official said.

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld last year’s ruling by the High Court – which said Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC had violated the opposition party’s constitution and was, therefore, null and void.

In the judgement handed down by Supreme Court judges Paddington Garwe, Bharat Patel and Antoinette Guvava, Chamisa’s elevation to the MDC’s presidency was thus declared unconstitutional.

The ruling paved the way for Tsvangirai’s then number two, Khupe, to act as the MDC’s interim leader – while preparing for an extra-ordinary congress that will choose a new party leader.

The ruling also automatically re-instated Mwonzora, and Komichi – who both lost their positions at the party’s chaotic congress in Gweru last May.

Last year’s High Court ruling followed a court application by MDC member Elias Mashavira, who challenged Chamisa’s ascendancy to the party’s leadership, which he said had happened in violation of its constitution.

When Tsvangirai died last year, Chamisa was accused of having allegedly used under-handed methods to torpedo the ambitions of Elias Mudzuri and Khupe.

A titanic leadership battle subsequently ensued, which eventually led to Khupe forming a breakaway faction – which went on to perform dismally in the 2018 elections. – Daily News