Rights defender and civic society leader, Dewa Mavinga, has warned the MDC that it risks losing relevance if does not quickly rectify problems engulfing the party.
Mavhinga’s warning comes amid a messy fallout over leadership renewal.
"The people’s respect and trust is earned on the basis of a clear record of consistent performance in the interests of the people and the same can be lost easily through taking people for granted," Mavhinga told the Daily News in an exclusive interview.
"The MDC is only relevant to the extent that it represents a viable alternative to the current regime and embodies the hopes and aspirations of ordinary Zimbabweans. But if people lose trust and confidence that the MDC in fact is a genuine movement for democratic change, then they have a serious problem that needs urgent attention.
"Now is a good time for serious reflection by the MDC in order to rebuild the political capital that has been squandered during this past period of internal fights and missed opportunities."
The MDC has been dogged by internal fights following attempts by ex-secretary general Tendai Biti to dethrone Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai’s loyalists have fought to retain the founding MDC leader at the helm, leading to a serious rift which has since spilled into the courts.
Mavhinga, who is also a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, warned that the rift was militating against the opposition movement’s role of holding the Zanu PF government accountable.
"The MDC infighting has hugely and negatively impacted on the party’s ability to hold Mugabe’s government accountable as much of their energy and time has been consumed on internal fights, generating massive ripples of negative energy that have rapidly spread across the country," said Mavhinga, who is also chairperson of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
"The unfolding economic meltdown offers opportunities for the MDC to present clear policy alternatives which so far are not forthcoming as the fragmented opposition movement is consumed by the self-destruct mode in their never-ending zero-sum game.
"Great leadership is not demonstrated by fighting personal vendettas or settling personal scores, but is about setting aside petty personal interests to embrace broader, higher national goals that improve people’s lives. Those pre-occupied with infighting should ask themselves this question: How does this help improve people’s lives and hold Mugabe’s government accountable?"
The squabbling in the fractious party comes as the economy continues to regress, but at a very worrying pace.
Recently Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa was forced to revise downwards the economic growth forecast despite having been bullish during his presentation of the national budget last year.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) hinted it would extend the Staff Monitored Programme (SMP) deadline for the second time after government missed most of its targets.
Mavhinga warned both MDC and other opposition groups that people could easily dump them.
"Well, the MDC and other political parties should not make the mistake of thinking that all Zimbabweans live only for elections and that the only things to look forward to are 2018 elections. Remember in 1998 there was no MDC to talk about, and there will arise a generation that knows no MDC," warned the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chief.