AS DIVISIONS continue to ravage the MDC over how to tackle President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF, as well as its simmering leadership tussles, former party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora says he will fight tooth and nail to fend off attempts to eject him from the ranks of the main opposition, the Daily News On Sunday reports.
This comes as the MDC is also sharply divided over the proposed dialogue between its leader Nelson Chamisa and Mnangagwa – which a large cross-section of Zimbabweans believes is the only sure way of extricating the country from its worsening economic rot.
And with the MDC’s leadership wrangles now having spilled to the Supreme Court – which last month reserved its judgment after Chamisa challenged an earlier High Court ruling nullifying his leadership of the country’s main opposition party – Mwonzora is facing the gun over the issue, with some party youths demanding his summary sacking.
But a miffed Mwonzora – who is suspected of having “engineered” the court challenge which nullified Chamisa’s leadership in May this year – emphatically told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that he was not going to yield to the push to have him expelled from the party.
“What is happening is the work of little, corrupt and misguided elements, who are being abused by some senior politicians who have failed to deliver.
“I am basically being harassed for criticising some senior party leaders who went to Zanu-PF headquarters to negotiate for themselves.
“I have never done anything wrong. It was in fact me who was wronged by being dragged to the Supreme Court. The people who dragged me there came to their senses in the Supreme Court and withdrew the application against me.
“They even offered to pay me over this. The party does not belong to individuals. I will defend myself. Anybody who thinks that I am going to be their victim must think again,” the defiant Mwonzora said.
“For the record, my pre-occupation is the struggle for democracy, justice and fairness. We have the duty to deliver our people from poverty and misery.
“These senior leaders who are abusing the youth must concentrate on improving the performance of the party. The party has not done well in the various by-elections.
“That is what leaders have to deal with and not engage in petty, internal self-cannibalism,” the angry Mwonzora told the Daily News on Sunday further.
Emphasising his point, the MDC deputy secretary for International Relations said there was no chance that he would leave the party, even if he was to be put under more “needless pressure”.
“Of course not. The revolution does not belong to the leaders. It does not belong to individuals. I dare them to try it.
“There is a systematic targeting of people who were loyal to the late Morgan Tsvangirai. I have been at the receiving end of hate language, propaganda, falsehoods, but I shall not be shaken by that.
“My sentiments represent those of the majority. In fact, the collusion of some senior leaders is evident by their quietness as some of those corrupt and criminal youths are harassing other leaders,” Mwonzora thundered.
“Any sensible leader must concentrate on rebuilding the party instead of paying youths. The good thing, however, is that the youths who are involved are in the extreme minority,” he added.
Mwonzora has had a love-hate relationship with some MDC bigwigs and youth assembly members since he expressed his interest to contest Chamisa at the party’s elective congress which was held in Gweru towards the end of May.
Then, Chamisa’s allies were further miffed by High Court judge Edith Mushore’s contentious ruling which put the MDC’s preparations for that Gweru congress in disarray.
Mwonzora’s rivals stepped up their assault on him by accusing him of having had advance knowledge of the court’s verdict.
Mushore not only nullified Chamisa’s appointment as president of the MDC, but also reversed his and Elias Mudzuri’s appointments as MDC vice presidents by the late Tsvangirai – whose death early last year led to a vicious power struggle within the country’s main opposition, leading to the inglorious departure of the party’s then long-serving vice president Thokozani Khupe.
The ruling followed a court application by MDC member Elias Mashavira who challenged Chamisa’s ascendancy to the party’s leadership, which he said had happened in violation of its constitution.
Now, some MDC youths are aggressively pushing for Mwonzora’s expulsion, ironically using the recent Supreme Court hearing over the MDC leadership wrangle.
Youth assembly chairperson, Obey Sithole, confirmed yesterday that party youths had issues with the Nyanga Senator.
“What I can say at the moment is that as the youths we are the vanguard of the party against both external and internal enemies.
“We are there to protect the party and its leadership and as it is, the party leadership was decided at our May congress. So, anyone who is not happy with it must wait for another congress.
“We will not respect anyone who fails to respect our president. We take offence with that,” Sithole told the Daily News On Sunday.
However, he would not be drawn into stating what exactly Mwonzora had said about Chamisa that had drawn their ire – saying he was not at the Supreme Court where Mwonzora had allegedly made offensive remarks about Chamisa.
“All I can say is to reiterate that as the youths we have a duty to protect the party and its leadership, the president included. We don’t respect leaders who do not respect our president,” he said.
However, Mwonzora described what was happening in the party as “most unfortunate”.
“It is very regrettable that youngsters get abused by senior politicians to take a dig at other people.
“I have moved on and I am enjoying my work in Parliament. I want to continue playing my full role in the struggle and I am going to do it,” he said.
He also said the statements that were attributed to him at the court were part of a “concerted smear campaign” that was spearheaded by people who “clearly knew that they were doing something wrong”.
Recently, there were also calls for disciplinary action against Mwonzora for travelling with Zanu-PF MPs to Sweden for re-engagement meetings.
He had travelled to Sweden with the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, legislators Kindness Paradza and Joshua Sacco of Zanu-PF, and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga for a re-engagement diplomatic mission.
On his return, he had presented a report to the party, where he said the Swedish government had told Mudenda’s delegation that they would only support Zimbabwe if Mnangagwa held talks with Chamisa.
The MDC was hit by power struggles shortly after the death of Tsvangirai, when Chamisa assumed the reins of the party ahead of his rivals – albeit, under controversial circumstances.
A titanic leadership battle subsequently ensued in the party, which eventually led to Khupe forming a breakaway faction – which went on to perform dismally in last year’s elections.