INTRA-PARTY violence reared its ugly head on Sunday during a crunch MDC Alliance district meeting in Shurugwi meant to suspend party cadres who stood as independent candidates during the July 30 polls when rival youths exchanged blows and harsh words.
The emotive indaba, which was held at Mukandapi Shopping Centre, was chaired by MDC Alliance’s Midlands South deputy provincial chairperson, Cleopas Shiri.
Chief on the firing line was businessperson Daniel Mabonga, who stood as an independent candidate for the Shurugwi South parliamentary seat. Ocead Mutunami, from the then Welshman Ncube-led MDC, had been seconded by the provincial leadership to stand on the alliance ticket, leaving out Mabonga from the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC who seemed the front runner.
Mabonga, however, won the support of the entire district executive together with other top leaders from across wards and other party structures totalling about 250, who are now also in the firing line. These included Shurugwi South district chairperson Norman Pfeveni, his deputy Todd Zvidza, organising secretary Usefu Nheredzi, vice organising secretary Stephen Jerera and district women assembly chairperson Thembekile Bhebhe.
The leadership of the party in ward 11, where Mabonga hails from, was also meant to be axed alongside the entire youths, women and main wing structures.
Violence broke out after party youths, who supported the position to have top leaders fired lost patience with Shiri who seemed to be delaying announcement of the suspensions.
Youths who stood with Mabonga, on the other hand, accused Shiri of provoking them by bringing to the meeting individuals they blamed for the divisions in the party.
District chairperson Pfeveni told Southern Eye that the provincial executive leadership had caused chaos, leading to emergence of independent candidates in Shurugwi South.
“The violence which occurred was caused by people whom we do not even know in the party, but who just came to support suspensions of top leadership. How can you say you want to suspend the whole district executive and structures in wards if you have the party at heart?
People were angry because it became clear Zanu PF implants want to destroy the party,” he said.
“The reason why we supported Mabonga is because president Nelson Chamisa himself told us he was the candidate at a meeting we held before a rally at Tongogara. However, the provincial leadership then brought us a new person we did not know in the area, saying he was going to stand for the party from the Welshman Ncube side, so we rejected him.”
Mabonga, who was not at the meeting, told Southern Eye that the intended suspensions were more to do with the forthcoming MDC Alliance congress scheduled for next year and threatened to sue the party if the suspensions went ahead.
“Chamisa must be very careful. These people who want to do the purges are interested in positions at the next congress, including his, and so they want to do away with delegates at grassroots level who do not support their agendas,” he said.
Mabonga said he had poured thousands of dollars into the party and had initiated projects to help improve the livelihoods of people in Shurugwi South.
“That is why people are standing by me. If Chamisa agrees to these suspensions, that will kill the party in Shurugwi South and give his enemies ammunition to destroy him at congress. Even on election day, all MDC Alliance agents and officials used resources I sourced and so it shows that I have the party at heart,” he said.
“I even built an office for the party and spent thousands on MDC Alliance regalia, not talking of vehicles I dedicated for the work of the party or upkeep of party officers at the Gweru office, among other sacrifices. Now this is the treatment I am supposed to get. I might sue the party if the suspensions go ahead because I feel used.”
Shiri, however, insisted that the suspensions were in line with a National Council resolution of MDC Alliance and urged those aggrieved to appeal on the basis of evidence.