Nelson Chamisa’s MDC has reacted angrily to secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora who triggered a storm when he claimed that the party’s founding father Morgan Tsvangirai is turning in his grave because of the toxic politics obtaining in the opposition party.
Ahead of the MDC congress slated for May, Mwonzora has emerged as the biggest challenger to Chamisa’s presidency, ruffling feathers in an opposition movement that is not accustomed to having its leader challenged.
Insiders said a meeting of the party’s powerful standing committee this week is likely to be brutal for Mwonzora, who now stands accused of exporting internal party issues to the media instead of resolving them internally.
MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Mwonzora’s statement that “Tsvangirai is turning in his grave” was regrettable especially coming from someone who is part of the leadership.
“We don’t know what he is saying but what we know is that at the moment, the party controls all the urban areas, we increased the vote, we increased the number of parliamentarians, we improved and this was done in a very short space of time, we have improved from where Tsvangirai left,” Mafume told the Daily News yesterday.
“We have dominated the narrative as a party. It is also a wonder when some leader turns to cannibalism. The post that he holds is critical and he has been in that post longer than Chamisa has been president.”
Mafume said party issues are firmly in the hands of the secretary-general.
“In the corporate world, we do a 360-degree appraisal not 180 degrees. He should look at the bigger picture. We even have a daughter of Tsvangirai in Parliament whereas our rivals have obliterated the memory of their founding father. Surely, the Tsvangirai we know will be proud that the party has improved significantly from where he left.
“There are no shambles in the MDC, we have diplomats coming to meet president Chamisa. Can they come when the party is in chaos? We had former Nigerian President Olesugun Obasanjo meeting the president. Can he meet with a leader of a chaotic party. Maybe Mwonzora was looking at the wrong grave of Tsvangirai, he should go to Humanikwa (Tsvangirai rural home where he was buried).”
With so much at stake, gloves are now off in the MDC as Chamisa and his allies seek to neutralise Mwonzora’s base and influence. Notably, there were reports of internal fights during the party’s district elections.
However, the party’s organising secretary Amos Chibaya said everything is in order and said Mwonzora should specify areas where there are chaos. In an interview with our sister paper the Daily News on Sunday, Mwonzora said he was ready to lead the MDC saying he has previously scored more wins than losses — a feat he said makes him more than suitable for any position within the party.
Asked if he has what it takes to be the party’s president, Mwonzora said: “I have been a leader in the MDC at various levels. Having started as the treasurer for Nyanga District, I was elevated to secretary for Local Government for Manicaland Province. In 2008, I was elected to represent Members of Parliament in the national council of the party. In 2011, I was elected as the national spokesperson of the party at congress. In 2014, I was elected as the secretary-general of the party. I think I served well in my positions”.
He went on further to give a detailed account of how he joined politics as early as 1989, while he was still a law student.Mwonzora was instrumental in the formation of the National Constitutional Assembly, which fought for a new democratic people-driven Constitution.
Chamisa has cautioned the party’s leaders against declaring ambitions saying leaders should come from the people and not self-choose.