A MEETING of the opposition MDC Alliance in Bulawayo to elect members from the province to occupy positions in the party’s national executive council turned violent yesterday as some disgruntled members accused the provincial executive of tribalism in the selection process.
A senior party member accused MDC Alliance president Mr Nelson Chamisa of sowing the seeds of discord when he allegedly rigged the Bulawayo provincial elections before the party’s congress last month to ensure his preferred candidates won, along tribal lines.
“It’s Chamisa’s people that we are rejecting. He must come here and sort out his mess before something worse happens,” said the party member.
Angry MDC Alliance members went for each other’s throats during the violent clashes at the opposition party’s Bulawayo provincial offices situated between Fort Street and 3rd Avenue.
The Chronicle observed a party member grabbing another by the throat while some were hurling unprintable obscenities at each other around 4PM.
Security guards at the gate had a torrid time trying to separate warring groups as one group appeared to be trying to evict another group from the premises.
According to inside sources, the violence started when some members opposed to the newly-elected Bulawayo provincial executive queried the criteria used in electing five members from the province to occupy the national executive council seats.
In the provincial elections, Mr James Sithole beat Mr Phelela Masuku by 509 votes to 307; Mr Felix Mhaka won the deputy chair position while Mr Ernest Rafamoyo won the provincial secretary position and is deputised by Mr Walter Taranhike.
The new provincial organiser is Ms Helen Zviviri, deputised by Mr Collet Ndlovu. Mr Swithern Chirowodza won the spokesperson position and is deputised by Ms Gladys Mathe. The treasurer is Mr Sonny Phiri deputised by Ms Grace Mathe.
“It appears some members were not happy with the manner in which the elections were conducted to elect members of the national executive council. Those who started the fight accused the Bulawayo provincial executive of practising tribalism in this whole thing,” said the source.
When The Chronicle visited the MDC Alliance offices yesterday afternoon, there were skirmishes as rival groups went for each other’s throats amid tribal undertones. Some angry members even threatened to boycott future meetings.
The violence comes barely a month after disputed elections to elect a new MDC Bulawayo provincial executive with losing candidates challenging the results.
MDC Bulawayo members, who comprise legislator Mr Phelela Masuku and 11 others, appealed to the party’s national executive council (NEC) challenging the elections in the province, claiming the process was flawed and marred by electoral irregularities.
MDC Alliance provincial spokesperson for Bulawayo Mr Chirowodza declined to comment, saying yesterday’s meeting was internal.
“We had a meeting to appoint members to the national council and it went smoothly without violence. You are putting me in a very difficult position by asking me to comment on fiction,” said Mr Chirowodza.
He declined to reveal the names of the electees saying they were subject to verification.
“I’ll be in a position to reveal the names after a day or two following due party processes,” said Mr Chirowodza.