MDC president Nelson Chamisa has all but created deep fissures of divisions within his party supporters in Masvingo province after superintending over a chaotic provincial congress which saw the James Gumbi-led executive retaining power.
Commenting on the provincial congress held a fortnight ago, MDC secretary general Douglas Mwonzora told local media that Masvingo had retained a weak leadership.
“Masvingo should have done better. There are a lot of people with good leadership qualities in the province. Gumbi and Tongai Matutu were not the best to keep the party afloat and win back the popular vote used to be enjoyed by the MDC,” said Mwonzora.
Under the Gumbi-led executive’s previous term, the party’s visibility in the province was very low because all key people were based in Harare and were out of touch with the structures.
As a consequence, Zanu-PF won 25 out of the 26 parliamentary seats in the province and Mwonzora said the same tragedy was likely to repeat itself in 2023.
“Gumbi does what he wants when he wants. He does not follow procedure and it will be difficult if not impossible for him to unite the deeply-divided province.
“Zanu-PF will harvest all the parliamentary seats again in 2023 because we have no capable provincial leadership. Matutu had people and we cannot dispute that. All those people can easily be lured to Zanu-PF. The people had high hopes but they were disappointed,” said Mwonzora.
Many members of the MDC were left disgruntled and dejected after the disqualification of Matutu at the eleventh hour after Chamisa reportedly invoked the party congress template where Matutu came short of the continuous five-year membership threshold.
The Matutu team had to quickly find a replacement and Simon Mupindu stood in but was defeated by Gumbi under murky circumstances, prompting his loyalists to stage a mini protest denouncing the Gumbi victory.
Gumbi polled 1 040 votes against Mupindu’s 966 and after being declared winner, Gumbi said what lied ahead was a huge task of uniting people and he will work with everyone to reclaim the lost glory.
“The people have voted and I came out victorious. In every contest, there is one winner and I am the winner in this case. This does not mean we are shutting other contestants out, we are going to work as a united front to build our party,” said Gumbi.
MDC provincial spokesperson Derrick Charamba said the provincial executive will have their first meeting today (April 26) to map the way forward.
He refuted claims that the executive was based in Harare.
“We are going to have our first meeting today to map the way forward. We are going to do things differently this time. We will be giving a full statement after our meeting,” said Charamba.
Meanwhile, the Matutu team has maintained its narrative that the polls were rigged, vowing to organise parallel programmes.
“Masvingo we thank you for voting the Matutu team. We will not surrender. We are the leaders of Masvingo while the Gumbi team are imposters. We will not abandon the people who nominated us.
“As the leaders of Masvingo, we must not donate the province to Zanu-PF. Gumbi is a product of rigging and is illegitimate. We are prepared to drive party programmes in districts and wards. Masvingo knows we are the most popular team and will look to us to proffer strategies that will dislodge Zanu-PF in the province,” said the Matutu team in a statement.