MDC factions led by party president Nelson Chamisa and secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora clashed at the weekend during ward elections, which were conducted countrywide.
Chamisa’s faction, which, according to party insiders, took control of most wards, was accused of imposing candidates.
At least fifteen members of the party were injured in Harare on Sunday during the running battles, which were the latest to hit the MDC as it gears up for the elective congress to be held in May.
There are fears that the violence could intensify this weekend when the party conducts district elections.
Winners from district elections will attend the congress to be held on May 24 to 26, together with provincial leaders.
In Mbare, Epworth and Kuwadzana, supporters of provincial chairperson Eric Murai and his rival Wellington Chikombo clashed after the provincial leader’s proxies lost during the ward elections.
Chikombo, a Chamisa loyalist, is vying for the chairperson’s position at provincial level.
“About 15 people were injured in the clashes. Most of the injured belonged to Murai’s camp,” a senior MDC official said.
However, Chikombo denied there were running battles saying: “We don’t do clashes; we do congratulations in the party of excellence.”
Murai could not be reached for comment.
There were also clashes in Bulawayo, where those aligned to MDC national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo were denied entrance into ward congress venues by security personnel.
Khumalo, who is associated with Mwonzora, is reportedly eyeing the vice presidency alongside current vice presidents Welshman Ncube and Morgen Komichi.
Vice national chairperson Tendai Biti is also in the running although his name is also featuring among those tipped to land the national chairperson’s position. An internal MDC report on the incident prepared by Ward 10 Councilor Sinikiwe Matha Matanda, which was seen by the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday, narrated events that led to the clashes.
“The ward chairperson Khalazani Ndlovu came with her fellow wing leaders to my house and we filled in forms for the structures. They left around 4pm ostensibly to hand in the list of candidates to the office as it was approaching deadline at 4pm as communicated,” the report reads.
“We then received a cellphone call from the ward’s organising secretary for the women’s assembly saying Khalazani was taken by the security at the office and they were surprisingly saying the positions were filled with people who are pro-Entumbane-Makhandeni Member of Parliament Dingilizwe Tshuma. Security there forcefully took all documents including ward copies.
“They tore all the documents and as if it was not enough, a marauding gang of five came to my house and demanded copies of structures I had. I refused vehemently as I am aware that security has absolutely nothing to do with structures. Structures belong to the organising department and as a result of this, we as Ward 10 disown structures handed in drawn up by security. Bona fide structures are still in the original books and papers written on the day of congress as left by the ward chair Khalazani and her team when transcribing.”
She further said the conduct of the security details shows that they are factional and are a danger to the MDC.
“Security must focus externally that is why the party has always been infiltrated there. They are clueless,” Matanda said in her report, which was sent to the party’s organising secretary Amos Chibaya.
MDC members who participated in the ward congresses in Masvingo province also accused Chibaya— who is linked to Chamisa — of imposing candidates for key positions.
“We don’t know what is happening here. They are just handpicking people and putting them into positions behind our backs, we are tired of that. They also prefer candidates who can give them money. We are not happy at all,” a party member from the province said.
“The whole province is corrupt. We have some party members who openly said they were going to vote Zanu PF in last year’s general election and yet we now see them getting into positions. We don’t want that.”
MDC Masvingo provincial secretary for administration Peter Chigaba dismissed those who complained about the processes as fake party members.
“Those are not genuine party members. MDC people respect procedures and they don’t rush to the press if they have issues,” he said.
Chibaya’s mobile phone was not reachable this week, while party spokesman Jacob Mafume was not answering calls.
— Zimbabwe Independent