HARARE – Tensions are mounting in the MDC led by Mr Nelson Chamisa here amid disapproval of plans to co-opt some eminent party “rebels” in the province into the party as part of the ongoing amalgamation of seven political parties that contested the July 30 polls as MDC Alliance.
The ongoing merger of the parties into one formation led by Mr Chamisa through embracing individuals that previously defected from the party has widened cracks in the MDC in Masvingo.
Mr Chamisa recently announced the co-option of some Alliance principals who were members of the united MDC such as Professor Welshman Ncube and Mr Tendai Biti as part of the merging process.
He directed that the process should cascade down to provinces where officials from other Alliance partners were supposed to be co-opted into provincial, district or branch positions ahead of a Congress to formalise the re-unification process.
However, some former united MDC rebels here such as ex-Masvingo Urban legislator Mr Tongai Matutu and Mr Jeffreyson Chitando have reportedly been sidelined in the integration exercise amid reports of serious bickering.
The divisions and infighting have reportedly been further fuelled by a looming MDC congress set for next year to choose new leaders of the united party.
In Masvingo incumbent MDC provincial chair Mr James Gumbi is reportedly sweating to keep his post from preying former rebels among them Mr Matutu and the party’s national executive member Mr Bernad Chiondengwa who are said to be eyeing the post.
There is concern within the MDC that rebels who at one time ditched the party then led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai now wanted to benefit from the spoils at the expense of loyal party cadres.
“The rebels thought that the party (original MDC) would collapse after their departure but things did not go that way and now they are coming back and want positions in the new united party ahead of Congress, there is no way we will surrender to them without a fight, we sacrificed a lot during their absence,” said a senior party official who refused to be named.
While Messers Matutu and Chiondengwa could not be reached for comment, Mr Gumbi denied there was a deliberate move to sideline the so-called rebels in the integration exercise.
“We got a directive from the national leadership to co-opt our “rebel” colleagues in provincial structures, districts and branches if there were vacancies but unfortunately here we had not vacancies so we could not co-opt anyone,” he said.
Mr Gumbi said the “rebels” were free to contest for positions ahead of congress tentatively set for next year.
“We hear several individuals are eyeing the chairmanship of the party here but there is nothing official on the ground, we will see when the time comes and it will be up to people to choose leaders of their choice. Of course people can say so and so once left the party and is now back but it is up to them (people) to decide,” said Mr Gumbi.
The MDC provincial chair said people will decide his fate.
“I am a trade unionist by profession if people ask me to stand as chair I will do so, if they say a fresh pair of hands should take over so be it,” he said.
The MDC will have its work cut out in the province where the party managed only one National Assembly seat out of the 26 in Masvingo.