MAIN opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa says his party has tightened the criteria used to select parliamentary and local authority candidates to avoid infiltration by “fortune seekers” who defect to the ruling Zanu PF party once they win elections.
In an interview with online news agency, CITE, at the weekend, Chamisa said the recent defection of elected MDC Alliance representatives, among them top party executives, to Zanu PF had taught them hard lessons and forced them to tighten screws in the selection process.
Chamisa, who narrowly lost to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu PF leader, in the disputed 2018 harmonised elections, said the MDC Alliance would now settle for “change agents committed to the struggle” ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
“What has happened is that a lot of our MPs and a lot of our councillors are people who are looking for opportunities,” he said.
“In fact, I have learnt from what has happened that instead of having people coming across as change seekers, change agents and change makers, they are actually job seekers, and so the preoccupation is to preserve a job as an MP or councillor,” said the youthful opposition leader, who has lost over 40 MPs and about 80 councillors in recalls orchestrated by the rival MDC-T party led by Douglas Mwonzora and Lucia Matibenga of the People’s Democratic Party.
Following the mass recalls, several other MDC Alliance legislators and councillors also crossed the floor to the ruling party to safeguard their jobs.
Chamisa described the defections as “a survival strategy” as well as a great betrayal of the struggle for democracy.
He accused Zanu PF and the MDC-T of conniving to decimate his party by dangling trinkets to elected MDC Alliance representatives.
“That is why I am now apologising to the people of Zimbabwe to say that we had not thought through the processes of our candidate selection, and that is why we have to go back to the drawing board to say we don’t have a party candidate, but a community candidate, a collective ethic and converged process run by community and opinion-makers as opposed to a political party because these processes produce candidates who do not have their loyalty in communities and to the people,” Chamisa said.
“Most of the MPs and councillors who have remained in Parliament on account of allegiance to a counter party formed by Mnangagwa have not shown loyalty to the people and we are going back to the drawing board.”
The MDC Alliance leader said communities and stakeholders would now lead the candidate selection process as opposed to using party structures.
“There will be a radical shift and change to the current candidate selection process in this organisation to allow the community to lead the process,” he said.
But MDC-T spokesperson Witness Dube scoffed at Chamisa’s claims, saying the MPs had dumped him after realising that the MDC Alliance had low regard of constitutionalism.
“There were no defections and the MPs only decided to stand on the side of their party constitution and the country’s Constitution. It is misleading for long-time comrades like Chamisa to believe in the lie he started himself that there is money involved or buying of people involved. He cannot be the only paragon of political correctness,” he said.
“He must not trivialise issues to that extent. It is very regrettable and insulting to people who made this party to be what it is.”
Chamisa also accused the Zanu PF government of engineering the arbitrary arrests of MDC Alliance activists, but the State has denied the charge.
“All the elected people were elected on the MDC Alliance ticket, but what we have seen is lawfare, the abuse of the courts in this case by Mr Mnangagwa to recall by his created surrogates whom you know, to then say all MDC Alliance MPs now belong to the MDC-T,” he said.
The MDC Alliance leader said the takeover of the party headquarters by Mwonzora’s MDC-T was a temporary setback, adding that his party would soon reclaim the property.
“What we have seen is authoritarian consolidation, an escalation of tyranny and we have seen the panic mode by Zanu PF and Mr Mnangagwa on account of our strength. We have remained steadfast, we have remained very strong and that’s why you have seen that they are in sixes and sevens. If we were such a non-factor in the politics of this country, they would have simply ignored us, but they can’t ignore us. They have discovered that we are too strong on the ground and want to weaken us, decimate our structures but they will not succeed,” Chamisa said.
Recently, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told NewsDay that his party was not involved in opposition party fights.