TOP MDC officials yesterday claimed that some party provinces had already endorsed their youthful leader Nelson Chamisa as their 2023 presidential election candidate ahead of the opposition’s May congress, arguing there was no need to “change the commander in the middle of a battle”.
This was revealed by MDC vice-president Morgen Komichi, deputy chair Tendai Biti and national organising secretary Amos Chibaya following a consultative rally held in Chinhoyi yesterday.
In his address, Biti accused the ruling Zanu PF of infiltrating the opposition structures and sponsoring some top executives to challenge Chamisa at the opposition party’s elective congress.
“Zanu PF is trying to influence the MDC congress in May, but we are not fools who can change the commander in the middle of a battle,” he said.
Chibaya said Chamisa had already been widely endorsed to continue as party leader.
This comes amid reports that MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, who has shown interest in running for the presidency, was being sponsored by Zanu PF to weaken the opposition party ahead of the 2023 polls.
But both Mwonzora and Zanu PF have denied the allegations.
Komichi told NewsDay: “The structures said it was illogical to change leadership mid-stream, which means they were endorsing president Chamisa’s leadership. Even in Mashonaland Central, the structures reiterated the same thing on Saturday. There was a message that we cannot change leadership now.”
He further claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had splurged between $4 million and $6 million to destabilise Chamisa’s candidacy ahead of the MDC congress.
Mwonzora denied reports that he had been sponsored by Zanu PF to destabilise Chamisa’s candidacy.
“I am happy that myself and president Chamisa are working well and waiting for the unfolding of the democratic process. I have come under attack from some senior party members, obviously in anticipation of the democratic process,” he said.
“This is largely the work of the Twitter politicians who are unelectable and anticipate to be appointed by the president. I am happy president Chamisa and myself are not engaged in unproductive hate language.
“We are working well together, but some senior leaders in the MDC are resorting to hate language. I am going to raise this in the national standing committee meeting we are holding this Wednesday.”
Information deputy minister and Zanu PF Goromonzi West MP Energy Mutodi yesterday said the ruling party would not waste its resources infiltrating MDC structures because it was already planning for the 2023 elections.
“Government is not worried who emerges the winner at the MDC congress, be it Chamisa or Mwonzora,” Mutodi said.
“None of the two is capable of overcoming our 2023 Zanu PF candidate President ED Mnangagwa. We have started reviving the economy and the gains are open for everyone to see,” he said.
“Chamisa’s sympathisers are alleging that Zanu PF prefers Douglas Mwonzora to emerge as the winner at congress. There was also a report that President Mnangagwa had invested about $6 million to destroy MDC and to weaken Chamisa. We see all this as a desperate attempt by the Chamisa faction to gain an unfair advantage over rivals by trying to portray Chamisa as a victim of Zanu PF interference.
“President Mnangagwa is not concerned who emerges as the MDC Alliance president after congress. Although we are fully aware that Chamisa has the backing of the deposed G40 faction kingpins such as Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Patrick Zhuwao, Shadreck Mashayamombe and many others, we are nonetheless confident to beat whoever we will contest against us in 2023.”
Since Chamisa took over as MDC leader, following the death of the party founder Morgan Tsvangirai in February last year, the youthful opposition leader has been a butt of negative publicity from both the State and ruling Zanu PF after he gave Mnangagwa a run for his money in the July 30, 2018 elections.
Chamisa narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in an election he claimed was rigged, and went on to lose the electoral challenge at the Constitutional Court. The electoral body revised Mnangagwa's win downwards twice.
Since then, he has continued to poke holes in Mnangagwa’s leadership, challenging his legitimacy.