MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa’s alleged dalliances with the former First Family is understood to be making partners in the coalition uneasy and there are now real fears that he is planning to ditch them if he wins the July 30 elections.
While tensions have been simmering over the double nomination of Alliance candidates in some constituencies, which at first was perceived to be accidental, there is now growing suspicion that Mr Chamisa’s failure to force his party’s candidates, particularly in constituencies reserved for Alliance partners, to withdraw seven days after the sitting of the Nomination Court on June 14, including reluctance to actively campaign for them, was well choreographed to prop up his MDC-T political formation.
Mr Chamisa – who was described by People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC) leader Mrs Joice Mujuru as dishonest in an interview with Capitalk FM on July 2 this year -is now being accused of pivoting his party on the National Patriotic Front (NPF), the former First Family’s pet political project, in order to insulate himself from coalition partners.
The tensions are now understood to be playing out in constituencies such as Harare South, where NPF candidates, disguised under the MDC-Alliance banner, are pitted against fellow MDC-Alliance candidates.
In Harare South, former G40 foot soldier and member of the NPF Mr Shadreck Mashayamombe is among the 14 candidates vying to represent the constituency.
He is representing MDC-Alliance together with Mr Samuel Saurombe of Transform Zimbabwe, which had been guaranteed the constituency through the coalition’s agreement.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, MDC-Alliance spokesperson Professor Welshman Ncube, whose MDC party was also “robbed” of its reserved seats in Matabeleland South, professed ignorance on Mr Mashayamombe’s candidature.
“The official position of the MDC-Alliance on Harare South is that the seat was reserved for a Transform Zimbabwe candidate. Any other candidate on the list who is not from Transform Zimbabwe does not have the blessing of the Alliance. The Alliance will not recognise someone who was not seconded from Transform Zimbabwe as per the initial agreement,” he said.
But Mr Mashayamombe is sticking to his guns.
“The list released by Mr Morgan Komichi is the one indicating that I am the official Alliance candidate and I am sticking to that list. I cannot comment further on the issues you have raised. Can you kindly ask Mr Komichi for more details.
“I am on the ground campaigning and looking up to heaven for my doors to be opened and, God willing, I will reclaim the seat,” he said.
It is the same pattern in all the constituencies that have fielded two Alliance candidates.
In Harare province, which is considered the opposition party’s stronghold, the MDC-Alliance has fielded two candidates in Mabvuku-Tafara and Harare South.
Most notably, in Mabvuku-Tafara, where more than 13 candidates are vying for the constituency, Mr James Maridadi will face off with his namesake and fellow party member Mr James Chidhakwa.
The Alliance also fielded two candidates in four constituencies in Mashonaland Central province – Mazowe North (Stephen Muchenje and Mcumillan Ndhlovu); Mazowe South (Mr Gift Chimanikire and Ms Faith Gamuchirai Chakwera); Mazowe West (Thamarie Chimanzi and Rorana Machihwa); and Muzarabani North (Takawira Agreement Kagura and Lawrence Mushori).
And in Masvingo province, MDC-Alliance principal Mr Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe) faces the ignominy of fighting it out with fellow Alliance member, a Mr Boniface Mudzingwa, in Bikita East.
In Gutu North, Alliance candidates Messrs Juniel Manyere and Edmore Maramwidze will have a duel with each other before fighting off challenges from candidates from other political parties.
But fellow MDC-Alliance members believe that this is part of a broader political gamble by Mr Chamisa to get rid of Alliance partners through the ballot, whose support he believes is insignificant.
“We suspect that he (Mr Chamisa) increasingly fancies the NPF, which, in his estimation, might bring him the support he is desperately craving for. He is pretending to tag along with other political parties for symbolic value.
He remains elusive on his pact with (Mrs) Grace Mugabe and, what the horse trading between the two parties involves, but as (Sarah) Mahoka (of the NPF women’s league) has already said, it appears true that they have been promised the Vice President’s post,” said an Alliance member who is privy to the goings on in the political formation.
Mr Chamisa, the source further added, is playing a smoke-and-mirrors game with Alliance partners and supporters.
It is believed that he fears that broaching the subject will be calamitous to his political fortunes, but is set on making a supposedly secret pact with Mrs Mugabe.
Incidentally, former G40 kingpin Professor Jonathan Moyo, who is part of the NPF team, and his allies Messrs Mduduzi Mathuthu and Edmund Kudzai, have since thrown their lot with Mr Chamisa through a calculated social media campaign.
It is believed that the former G40 team’s links and liaisons with Mr Chamisa pre-dates the explusion of then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from both Government and Zanu-PF in November last year, and the forces are now coalescing ahead of the July 30 elections.
In an interview with Voice of America (VOA) Zimbabwe, NPF women’s league chairperson, Mrs Sarah Mahoka, said the party was supporting Mr Chamisa in return for the Vice President’s post.
“Bato redu ari kuritungamirira izvozvi iye zvino hatina president kuNPF. President wedu isusu ndi (Nelson) Chamisa. Chamisa ndiye achapinda pahupresident, isusu tinotora hudeputy.
“Isusu takatobatana neAlliance because tinoda kubvisa junta yakabvisa baba VaMugabe, vachiti baba VaMugabe vakura,” she said.
Spokesperson of the NPF faction, that is presently being fronted by interim president Ms Eunice Sandi-Moyo – who took over after the recent ouster of Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri on June 8 – corroborated Mrs Mahoka’s position, saying the senior party member was speaking from an informed position.
“Cde Sarah Mahoka is a senior member of the party and she was speaking from an informed position. She was very accurate in her statement because it is a fact that our party is supporting Mr Nelson Chamisa to be President. That is definite,” said Mr Mawarire.
“She was also talking about the negotiations that we are having with the MDC- Alliance where we have submitted our request that one of our members should be the Vice President.”
Curiously, despite fielding Mr Chamisa as the presidential candidate, there isn’t any hierarchical structure in the MDC-Alliance or within the MDC-T faction he leads to spell out designations of the presidium.