The MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa is on a charm offensive to lure back some of the party’s founder members that fell by the wayside during previous splits as the battle for the soul of the country’s largest opposition party gathers pace.
Chamisa’s rivals in the MDC Alliance, Douglas Mwonzora and Morgen Komichi a fortnight ago threw their weight behind MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe after the Supreme Court ruled that the main opposition party’s 2018 presidential election candidate was not the legitimate leader of the party.
Khupe was given the mandate to organise an extraordinary congress within three months to elect a successor to the party’s founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai using the 2014 structures.
Chamisa has remained mum about the judgement, but MDC Alliance insiders said his lieutenants were hard at work pushing to pull the rug from under the former deputy prime minister’s feet by wooing the party’s founder members to fight in his corner.
MDC Alliance secretary-general Chalton Hwende confirmed that some former party members had shown interest in recent weeks to retrace their footsteps to Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House.
Hwende said a committee led by the party’s deputy president Welshman Ncube had been tasked to handle the issue, “On day-to-day basis, we receive enquiries from former members and some of them from the MDC-T who want to come to the MDC Alliance and we have set-up a committee, which is led by vice-president Welshman Ncube, which also includes the national chairperson [Thabitha Khumalo] to deal mostly with former senior members who want to come back to the party,” he said.
“Without mentioning the names of the people, yes, I can confirm that there are a lot of former members who have indicated their interest to come back to the party.
“The politics is clear that someone is either with Zanu PF or MDC and we are calling for the people to join the MDC Alliance.”
Some of the former heavyweights whose names have been mentioned among those interested in joining the MDC Alliance are former Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo, who now leads the United Movement for Devolution (UMD), MDC-T chairman Abednicho Bhebhe, former Water and Climate minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, and top leadership of Zapu.
Sipepa Nkomo said he was aware of the engagements, but dismissed claims that he was about to rejoin the MDC Alliance or politics.
“I know what you are talking about; politicians are talking about supporting Chamisa, but me as Sipepa Nkomo, you know that I retired from active politics. I am not going back into politics, I am retired,” Nkomo said.
“When I retired, I met Chamisa and I told him that I have been in politics for 50 years and I am retiring.
“I also told him that I would always be open to be approached for consultation and advice.”
Moyo said officials from across the political divide in Matabeleland had been talking of strategies to defend their territory and push for the development of the region in the face of prolonged marginalisation since independence.
“It’s certainly not true that I am joining the MDC Alliance,” he said.
“I am a president of UMDC, how can I join another party?
“What I really know is that Matabeleland politicians have been talking and talking to someone does not mean you are joining him.
“It is a long process up to 2023. We talk to everyone except Zanu PF and it does not mean that when you talk to Zapu you are joining it.
“We are going to collaborate with any political party as long as it supports devolution.
“We had conversations in the past month and, yes, I am aware there could be some members going back to MDC Alliance.
“I go into talks with different parties ahead of 2023 and our idea is that we must not split votes.”
Bhebhe said he was in support of all opposition parties uniting.
“I am for the united opposition to end the suffering of the people,” he said.
“Zimbabwe has been in turmoil for the past 40 years and it is sad that people jump from party to party looking for jobs.
“I have seen people saying they want me to be their MP in this party or that. I have passed that stage.
‘I am a businessman by the way, I earn far much better than an MP sitting in Parliament.
“I am tired of people saying I am this party, I belong to that party when it does not help the country anyhow.”
— The Standard