THE discord that has hit the MDC’s interim leadership – including last week’s move to block the nomination of reinstated secretary general Douglas Mwonzora as the party’s next president is escalating.
This comes as regional and international analysts have delivered a damning assessment of the country’s opposition in general, which they say is too weak and disorganised to impact on Zanu PF and influence meaningful national change.
MDC insiders told the DailyNews yesterday that the blocking of Mwonzora’s nomination to run for the party’s presidency did not only show the growing discord within Thokozani Khupe’s team, but also underlined the senseless bloodletting that continues to ravage the country’s main opposition.
Mwonzora himself said notwithstanding the party’s ructions, he had accepted the nomination and was ready to lead the MDC.
“I feel humbled by Harare Province’s nomination and I am ready for the challenge, although it is up to the party to decide.
“I will accept whatever decision they make. I have been in leadership for a long time and this will not be new territory.
“My goal, if I win the election, is to unite and stabilise the party as well as positioning it as a credible opposition to Zanu PF,” Mwonzora told the DailyNews.
But all eyes are on the party’s leadership after it moved to veto the nomination, on the grounds that this had been done illegally.
Significantly, interim MDC national chairperson Morgen Komichi has also said disciplinary action will be taken against those who had nominated Mwonzora.
“It was a fake nomination which has no legal standing. I don’t know why people are doing things that are contrary to democratic practice.
“The national organising department has not even vetted the congress delegates and an electoral commission has not been chosen.
“A province cannot conduct its own nomination because it is an interested party.
“We have stopped that nonsense and anyone who continues with that faces disciplinary action,” Komichi told the DailyNews.
However, Mwonzora said yesterday that there was no reason for disciplinary action to be taken against the province, as the party had not communicated its new position.
“No one should face disciplinary action because as far as we know there was no prior communication to the province to the effect that nominations had been stopped.
“In any event, if anyone is unhappy with the nomination I got, I have no problem if it is to be redone,” he told the DailyNews.
This comes as there are said to be four contenders for the party’s substantive leadership – Khupe, Mwonzora, Komichi and Elias Mudzuri.
The infighting in Khupe’s group is a continuation of the wars that have been ravaging the MDC since the death of its much-loved late founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai – who died from colon cancer in February 2018.
Last week, the party’s interim leadership was thrown into fresh turmoil after some youths assaulted Khupe’s aide and party workers at the party’s national headquarters in Harare.
The youths – who are allegedly aligned to Mwonzora – are accused of harassing officials suspected to be backing other candidates in the race for the leadership of the party.
This comes as Khupe and Chamisa have been involved in an ugly brawl for control of the party since the death of Tsvangirai.
The fights took a turn for the worse after the Supreme Court upheld an earlier High Court ruling in March, which nullified Chamisa’s hotly-disputed ascendancy to the helm of the MDC.
The factional wars escalated even further after Khupe took over control of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House – allegedly with the assistance of security forces.
In addition, Khupe has also recalled 21 MPs and senators from Parliament, as she flexes her muscles.
In the meantime, analysts have delivered a damning assessment of the country’s opposition, which they say is too weak to force dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government.
Speaking during a virtual meeting organised by SAPES Trust last week to discuss South Africa’s role in Zimbabwe’s ongoing crises, the analysts also criticised the opposition for its tendency to bank on the international community in the quest to end the country’s long-standing political and economic crises.
At the same time, they also said the senseless bloodletting that is ravaging the MDC was making it difficult for the country’s main opposition party to get meaningful outside help.
British academic and international affairs expert, Nicole Beardsworth, as well as respected South African journalist Mathatha Tsedu, were among those who said Zimbabwe lacked a formidable opposition to push for change.
“We have had a discussion about how South Africa’s bias towards the ruling Zanu PF has failed Zimbabwe, but I believe the most critical element that is lacking in the country is that of a strong political opposition to advocate for change and push the ruling elite into dialogue.
“There is this notion of wanting to wait, believing that only the international community can help in ending Zimbabwe’s woes, but I believe that the ultimate solution lies within Zimbabweans themselves.
“The opposition by now should be in a position to influence real democratic change and force the government into an inclusive dialogue.
“This is not just dialogue for the sake of getting into power and looting State resources, but dialogue to see genuine reforms being made to take the country forward,” Beardsworth told the meeting.
The post-doctoral researcher – who has conducted extensive studies on why opposition coalitions have failed in Zimbabwe, among other things – also said instead of being consumed by internal fights, the opposition needed to come up with strategies to force the government to introduce needed reforms.
“When you see opposition political parties quarrelling amongst each other, that is a sign of weak opposition and there is no way they will be able to force the ruling party to the negotiating table if they are not speaking with one voice.
“So far, we have seen Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe leader) being vocal about the July 31 demonstrations and he has been arrested for that.
“However, he is not one of the major opposition actors and we need bigger opposition leaders to put pressure on the government until it gives in.
“We also need an active citizenry to pile pressure on the government,” Beardsworth said further.
“This is because as the situation is right now, how can South Africa or the international community intervene and put pressure on the government when opposition leaders and the citizens are relaxed?
“People should do something, including protesting, taking to the streets and calling for change and dialogue.
“That will be the pressure point needed by the international community to then intervene and add more pressure on Zanu PF. Currently, Zimbabwe has no point of pressure,” Beardsworth also said.
She said rather damningly, that the government was being let off the hook on a number of constitutional violations “because of a weak opposition and citizenry”.
“The government claims to be implementing reforms, but on the ground nothing substantial is being done.
“We see constitutional amendments being conducted, attempts to reform repressive laws by replacing them with more repressive laws … After implementing such reforms the government then claims that it is doing all it can to improve the democratic space when the reality is contrary to that,” Beardsworth added.