THE ongoing dramatic attempts by MDC youths to end the party’s wars suffered a potentially fatal blow yesterday after Nelson Chamisa pooh-poohed the need to participate in intra-party unity talks.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, the MDC Alliance leader also said he had nothing to do with this week’s seizure of the party’s iconic national headquarters in Harare — Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (MRT) House — by the fed up youths who are demanding an end to the futile infighting.
At the same time, the party’s interim leadership led by Thokozani Khupe accused Chamisa and his allies of allegedly using violence to force dialogue with his MDC rivals.
But Chamisa told the Daily News yesterday that he had nothing to do with the ongoing attempts by party youths to broker unity within the country’s main opposition.
“I have no time for quislings. I lead a political party, the MDC Alliance, and have no business in what is happening in other parties.
“They (the youths) want to drag me into issues of the MDC-T, but I really have no time for that. What has Chamisa got to do with Harvest House?” he told the Daily News.
But Khupe’s spokesperson, Khaliphani Phugeni, yesterday accused Chamisa of directing the seizure of MRT House by the youths who are said to be loyal to him.
This is despite the fact that youths from Khupe’s camp such as Paul Gorekore held a joint conference this week with their rival MDC Alliance counterparts, to announce the seizure of the building.
Phugeni said a day before the takeover, Chamisa had allegedly revealed the plan to do this when he addressed his supporters at the weekend.
“The youths are still in there (in MRT House), but they are not MDC-T youths. We have a court order to get them out and the police will enforce the order.
“We work within the parameters of the law. Their invasion of our headquarters is at the order of Chamisa in his address to his people.
“On Saturday, he ordered them to violently take it over,” Phugeni told the Daily News yesterday.
He also said Khupe had sent an emissary to meet with the youths, to engage and persuade them to move out — but to no avail.
“He listened to them, but they are not in a position to make any demands at all.
“If Chamisa wants to talk to us, he is welcome. But what you don’t do is to try to take us hostage and violently take over our headquarters as a way to force us into negotiations.
“We will not allow ourselves to be held to ransom like that,” Phugeni further told the Daily News.
However, MDC organising secretary Abedinico Bhebhe said he was backing the joint efforts by the rival youths to foster party unity, as this was “both desirable and inevitable”.
“We are sick and tired of this mudslinging. We cannot afford to ignore what the youths are saying. So, I have taken it upon myself to get Khupe and Chamisa to start talking.
“I stay with Khupe here in Bulawayo, hence that is not a problem … I will soon drive to Harare to meet Chamisa. The two have to find each other without failure,” he said.
This comes after party youths seized MRT House, in a desperate bid to force dialogue between Khupe and Chamisa.
The two have been involved in a vicious tussle for the control of the country’s largest opposition party ever since the late and revered MDC founder, Morgan Tsvangirai, succumbed to cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
On Tuesday, the MDC interim leadership had appeared intent on ending the rift with Chamisa when it held a hastily-arranged meeting of its standing committee in Harare, which officials said was meant to clear the ground for re-unification talks with the Chamisa group.
Gorekore — who led the takeover of MRT House — told the Daily News then that they were determined to achieve dialogue between Khupe and Chamisa.
“The standing committee, which is here today (Tuesday), will be attended by the MDC leadership, and from that meeting we expect them to come up with a resolution to redirect the engagement process … but the fact is that we are really desperate for unity.
“We are trying by all means to push our leaders to find each other, sit down and solve their differences, which we believe can be resolved amicably.
“When I talk about leaders, I am referring to those who held various positions when President Morgan Tsvangirai died in 2018,” Gorekore told the Daily News.
“According to what we agreed as the youths, the leaders must follow the constitution. So, when they say they have suspended or expelled so and so, the procedure must be followed to the extent that the decisions must be ratified by the national executive committee and the national council.
“So, the leaders have not been expelled yet until those organs of the party have met. If they endorse that, or do not, then that will be the final decision,” he added.
Gorekore was apparently referring to the sacking of Chamisa from the 2014 structures by Khupe, as well as the many recalls of legislators and councillors around the country — which other members of the Khupe team such as Bhebe have strongly objected to.
This comes as the Daily News has reported on the MDC’s senseless brawls consistently, fairly and accurately over the past two years — calling out the futility of the anarchy.
At the weekend, political analysts also warned that the party’s futile infighting was driving the MDC to its death bed.
They also repeated their other warnings that the divided opposition would find it exceedingly difficult to compete with Zanu PF in the fast-approaching 2023 national elections.
The MDC has been ravaged by its futile ructions since its much-loved founding father Morgan Tsvangirai died from colon cancer in February 2018.
The infighting went a notch up after the Supreme Court judgment earlier this year which upheld last year’s ruling by the High Court that nullified Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the party.