THE opposition MDC-T is dithering over the holding of an elective congress, with insiders accusing party leader Douglas Mwonzora of shifting goal posts while his loyalists were targeting opponents for purging.
Loyalty has shifted from Mwonzora since the party performed dismally in the last two by-elections amid calls for renewal if the party is to survive and mount a serious challenge.
Mwonzora has been accused of failing to inspire the party to victory with supporters of the party chairperson Morgen Komichi and vice-president Elias Mudzuri saying either of the two should take over from Mwonzora.
Other names that have been thrown into the ring for the party leadership include Norest Marara, who contested for the Harare Central seat in the 26 March by-elections.
Marara, a businessman and close ally of the late former party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, is also said to be eyeing the party’s treasurer-general’s post but insiders said from the available pool of possible leaders to take over, he was being pushed by party supporters for the top post.
Those who lost have blamed Mwonzora for failing to lead the party, with Zivai Mhetu, who contested in Epworth, saying the electorate openly spoke against the party leader’s lack of charisma as the reason not to vote him into office.
Mhetu has since been fired from the party.
The party is due for congress but insiders expressed worry this week that there was no commitment in announcing a real date for the congress.
Komichi on Thursday told The NewsHawks that the congress has been set for July 23 and 24 but subject to change.
“The provisional date for the congress is 23 and 24 July. However, this is subject to review depending on the situation on the ground and progress in terms of preparations,” Komichi said.
“There are issues to do with ensuring delegates are all in place among others which will have to be addressed hence the provisional dates that are subject to review.”
Komichi condemned attempts by some he described as excitable who have threatened to block private meetings in what observers said were attempts by the Mwonzora camp to consolidate power despite growing resentment.
“Campaigns are open as the leadership has said and all vacancies, as the president has said, will be contested and are up for grabs. No one should be victimised.”
“That is unconstitutional and unacceptable. Sometimes it is just positions of one or two individuals who are excitable, but that is not the party position.”
Discussions in MDC-T social media groups gleaned by The NewsHawks showed greater resentment on Mwonzora’s continued leadership of the party, with some openly calling for urgent action to rescue the MDC-T brand.
Insiders said there was a plot to block the congress by a cabal linked to Mwonzora that has also blocked private meetings.
“They are afraid of congress. There is no official date and there are plans to prepare a fake voters’ roll. He also plans to reduce the campaign period to less than a month. He is also planning to disqualify other candidates,” an insider said.
Mwonzora recently reshuffled his party leadership amid reports he is consolidating power to make sure his position is not contested.
According to a letter dated 14 May 2022, purportedly from the youth assembly members who are supporting Mwonzora, any plot to challenge the party leader will be blocked.
“The centre is still holding tight. As youths, we are going to make sure from today that we deal with all forms of discord, parallelism, traitorship and factionalism. No to all unsanctioned meetings in Harare. All structures and members to do as stipulated in the constitution concerning meetings,” the letter reads.
“Once we get wind of any plot by a leader/group to do any form of disobedience, we will act hastily without fear. We are going to defend our party and its membership. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”
Hawks within the MDC-T are baying for Mwonzora’s blood and plotting his ouster ahead of an elective congress.
Mwonzora dramatically took over the MDC-T in December 2020 during the extraordinary congress amid chaos that saw ousted deputy president Thokozani Khupe being physically assaulted.