MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora has reportedly taken extra measures to ensure his safety, including withdrawing from public places and not visiting the party’s headquarters in Harare CBD as suspected party thugs are baying for his blood.
This follows a ruling by the High Court of Zimbabwe that nullified Nelson Chamisa’s presidency of the party, with journalist Hopewell Chin’ono insinuating on social media that Mwonzora had the High Court judgement a week before it was delivered.
A group of party youths, popularly known as the Vanguards, have also been seen surrounding party vice President Elias Mudzuri’s Milton Park home in Harare, singing derogatory songs. The youths accused Mudzuri of undermining Chamisa, saying Mudzuri sponsored the High Court application by a Gokwe MDC official which resulted in yesterday’s ruling.
ZOOMZimbabwe understands a report has been made to the police regards Mudzuri’s safety and the disturbance of peace at his home at lunchtime Thursday.
ZOOMZimbabwe has received information that Starman Chamisa, a relative of Nelson who is also the legislator for Mbare, is at the centre of an operation hunting for Mwonzora.
“Starman Chamisa has been tasked with hiring thugs that should find and beat up Mwonzora,” a source close to the developments told ZOOMZimbabwe.
“This followed a social media post by Chin’ono that linked Mwonzora to the leak of a High Court ruling to a NewsDay journalist, Blessed Mhlanga, last week,” the source said.
Writing on social media last night, Chin’ono said: “Weeks ago I urged Wamba (Nelson Chamisa) and the MDC to accommodate Mukoma Douglas Mwonzora after he had been rejected by the MDC branches in his quest to lead the main opposition party.
“Today he stands accused of having known ahead of time about the exact nature and contents of today’s court ruling that nullified Wamba’s Presidency.
“Senior MDC folks are saying that he told a Newsday journalist about it and that they chose to keep quiet to see how it will pan out.
“In a toxic political environment like this one, I urge Mukoma Douglas Mwonzora to clear his name. Did he tell a Newsday Journalist or not about the contents of today’s judgement?
“Is he the source referred to in Blessed Mhlanga’s tweets? Did he mention the ruling days ago and it’s nature and contents?”
Controversial politician and human rights defender Linda Masarira has described as shocking the reactions by the MDC family to the High Court ruling. Quoting Article 2.0 of the MDC Constitution, Masarira says the MDC is a party constituted by many lawyers and must show respect for courts and court processes.
The leadership of the opposition MDC has always been a hotly contested potato since the early 2000s.
In July 2006, the late Trudy Stevenson and three other senior party leaders were attacked with stones and a machete by youths belonging to a rival opposition faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, also now late. This was after Stevenson had chosen to align with a breakaway faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara and Professor Welshman Ncube.
Trudy and company “were waylaid near Circle Cement as the thugs blocked the road and threw stones at their car, smashing the windscreen and windows. The mob pounced on the MDC officials and attacked them with an assortment of missiles, which included stones, iron bars and sticks. The thugs searched the victims as they lay helplessly on the ground and got away with three cell-phones, cash, two hand bags, two pairs of shoes and other important valuables including wedding rings.
According to reports, the youths accused her of turning against founding MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Four other MDC officials were reported to have been injured in the attack, two of them seriously. The attack on Stevenson led lawyer David Coltart, who had for a time remained neutral in the fight between Ncube and Tsvangirai, choosing to join Ncube because of what he said were unchecked violent tendencies among Tsvangirai’s supporters.
In February 2014, MDC party youths assaulted then party Deputy Treasurer General Elton Mangoma, Tendai Biti and other officials accusing them of seeking the ouster of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The then Youth Assembly Secretary General Promise Mkwananzi was also assaulted while his boss Solomon Madzore was holed up in the building unable to leave.
Police had to rescue the situation.
Just like Tsvangirai, Chamisa’s reign has also had its fair share of violence against those perceived to be against the leadership.
On 20 February 2018, internal party violence manifested itself when MDC youths commonly known as the Vanguard militia assaulted the former vice president Thokozani Khupe, legislator Lwazi Sibanda, secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and several others at Tsvangirai’s funeral service at Humanikwa village in Buhera, Manicaland province.
The marauding youths accused the trio of opposing moves by acting party president Chamisa to succeed the late MDC-T leader.
In March 2018, before Khupe walked away to lead her breakaway faction, another internal party violence erupted at the Bulawayo offices as angry Chamisa supporters viciously attacked Khupe and her supporters, assaulting and injuring Khupe’s driver Witness Dube and scores of her followers.