Zimbabwe opposition infighting escalates

Chamisa and Khupe
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INFIGHTING in the opposition MDC party is escalating as the Thokozani Khupe-led faction — buoyed by a recent Supreme Court ruling ordering the party to revert to 2014 MDC-T structures — prepares to re-organise the party after the government-imposed lockdown, from grassroots level up, in preparation for an extraordinary congress.


This is despite stiff resistance from the camp led by the firebrand Nelson Chamisa, which has declared the court ruling a nullity.

Chamisa is in full control of the party’s structures and headquarters despite the Khupe camp claiming it has majority support in the party’s 2014 structures.

A fortnight ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the MDC should revert to its 2014 structures, adding that Chamisa is an illegitimate leader.

It found that the appointments of Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as deputy presidents by founding president Morgan Tsvangirai in 2016 were unlawful, and that Chamisa’s rise to the presidency of the MDC-T in February 2018 was illegal.

The ruling handed Khupe the interim leadership of the party as she was elected at the party’s congress in 2014, while Chamisa’s other rivals Morgen Komichi and Douglas Mwonzora reverted to being national chairperson and secretary-general respectively.

Khupe was ordered to prepare for an extraordinary congress within three months.

The Chamisa camp has announced it does not recognise the ruling as it does not affect its structures, now that the party is part of the MDC-Alliance, not MDC-T. It further said those who pushed for the litigation, particularly Mwonzora and Komichi, had effectively expelled themselves from the party.

On the other hand, the Khupe faction said Chamisa and his allies risked facing disciplinary action for failing to comply with the court’s decision.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Komichi said he was consulting lower structures of the party in preparation for the extraordinary congress.

This is despite Khupe’s current secretary-general Nickson Nyikadzino, who was elected at the 2018 congress, announcing that he was in charge of the congress-preparation process as the elected secretary-general of the MDC-T.

Nyikadzino said he, and not Mwonzora, would drive the process.

Komichi, however, dismissed Nyikadzino’s claims, saying: “He is mistaken. The judgment is very clear that all shenanigans done outside the 2014 congress were null and void. This means the Gweru congress by the Chamisa gang was nullified. Khupe’s congress was also nullified. If he thinks that he is the secretary-general, he is mistaken.”

“What the court did was to give the mandate to make political decisions to the acting president who, in this case, is Khupe and the chairman. The administrative roles went back to Mwonzora. So, we are working together to re-organise the party and we are doing very well although our efforts have been hampered by the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

“We are communicating with the structures and we are currently carrying out audits on those structures. All members from the 2014 congress are trooping back. We are only unable to go on the ground but we are using other online platforms. We have had an overwhelming response from the party. Actually, my phone is inundated with calls from all over the country from people expressing joy and happiness. Once this lockdown is over, we will roll out the restructuring programme,” Komichi added.

Komichi said the party would hold smaller congress starting with the branch, then the ward, the district and the province before the national congress.

MDC-Alliance secretary-general Charlton Hwende, said Khupe, Mwonzora, Komichi and their supporters are Zanu PF agents who will be resisted by the party structures. He said through the co-optation of senior members, Zanu PF was hoping to destabilise the party.

“The attack on the MDC-Alliance is a Zanu PF-planned and sponsored grand scheme to totally annihilate the MDC. This attack is manifesting itself mainly on three levels: first the cooptation of fellow comrades. It was a success with Khupe and now with Mwonzora and Komichi. Second is the criminalisation of the party through bogus court rulings like the recent one which is meant to cause internal destabilisation and to weaken parliamentary and local government representation of the people’s alternative government,” Hwende said.

“The third strategy is the smear campaign of the leadership of the party as illegitimate and corrupt. The attack on our president in particular is an attack on the office entrusted at congress as the chief custodian of the party’s founding values and ideals. It’s a grand scheme wherein massive state resources have been poured to ensure that the MDC-Alliance is totally annihilated. That is the ruthless nature and practice of a military regime, multi-party democracy is under siege.”

MDC-Alliance youth assembly chairperson Obey Sithole said Mwonzora was bitter after failing to retain the secretary-general’s post at the party congress last year.

“If you listen to him (Mwonzora) and others speak, there is no tangible reason why they are against president Chamisa’s leadership, but this is driven by bitterness against our president. Even Komichi has become a product of bitterness after failing to land the MDC-Alliance vice-presidency,” Sithole said.

Mwonzora however said he was not out to settle personal scores with Chamisa.

“I have no personal issues with Chamisa. The problem comes from the failure to follow the constitution. I tried my best to help the party follow the constitution and I have been very consistent,” Mwonzora said.

“They resort to hate language and this will not increase the stature of the person they are rooting for. The youths are being sponsored by the godfathers of violence and hate language. We need to build tolerance and democratic practice in the party. What we did last was to air our opinion that the party must follow the court judgement. Otherwise it would look like we are an anarchic and lawless outfit.” – The Zimbabwe Independent