9 August 2018

Zimbabwe: Chamisa Guns for Mwonzora's Head

Photo: The Herald
Douglas Mwonzora.

The MDC-T faction led by Mr Nelson Chamisa is gunning for its secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora's head, and yesterday initiated disciplinary proceedings against him for blaming the opposition's loss in the July 30 harmonised elections on the roping in of former president Mr Robert Mugabe at the 11th hour.

Mr Mwonzora, who beat Mr Chamisa to the secretary general's post at the last congress, said he was opposed to Mr Mugabe's involvement in national politics, particularly as a partner of the opposition party.

Mr Mugabe resigned ahead of impeachment proceedings last November.

When Mr Chamisa, who was the MDC-Alliance presidential candidate, saw that the going was getting tough for him, he sought an alliance with Mr Mugabe in the hope of boosting his prospects in the polls.

Mr Mwonzora has described the association with Mr Mugabe as a blunder that cost the MDC-Alliance heavily.

The MDC-T faction's national executive committee yesterday met at its headquarters at Harvest House in Harare where the case of Mr Mwonzora took centre stage.

Senior members of the party grilled him on why he gave The Herald a position at variance with that of the party.

Intended disciplinary proceedings against Mr Mwonzora are set to widen cracks in Mr Chamisa's faction, which is emerging from defeat to the ruling Zanu-PF at the polls.

A national executive member, who attended yesterday's meeting, told The Herald that Mr Mwonzora was given seven days within which to respond to allegations of working to undermine the party.

He is accused of causing publication of material on social media and in mainstream media denouncing the party.

"We deliberated on the issue yesterday and it was high on the agenda," said the official.

"The matter has been referred for investigation. We gave him seven days within which to respond to the allegations.

"During deliberations, his response was to disown a Twitter account in his name that denounced the party. On a story published in The Herald, he distanced himself from the story and claimed that he was going to sue. We have asked him to furnish us with the copies of that litigation within seven days.

"After a full investigation coupled by his response, a decision would be made whether to constitute a disciplinary committee in terms of our constitution or not. He risks losing his post as secretary general, but more importantly we might cause that he forfeit his Senate seat once Parliament starts sitting."

Another source said the national executive noted that Mr Mwonzora had been "troublesome" for sometime.

"He was one of the people that were opposed to Mr Chamisa's ascendancy as leader of the party," said the official. "He has not relented."

When contacted for comment, Mr Mwonzora refereed questions to Mr Chamisa's spokesperson Dr Nkululeko Sibanda.

"No. No. I am not commenting on those issues," he said. "I am not interested. You might probably talk to the presidential spokesperson."

Dr Sibanda could not be reached for comment.

In an interview with The Herald that led to the fissures in the party, Mr Mwonzora said he had opposed working with Mr Mugabe and had made his position clear even before the just-ended harmonised elections.

"I did not like Mugabe," he said. "I have opposed working with him. I think Mugabe is a kiss of death. I still maintain that. I do not think there is any wisdom in working with him. We are not working with Mugabe as a party. Mugabe is 94 years old. He must just rest.

"He must not be involved in political processes of the country. I think at 94 he must rest and have nothing to so with the country. That is my personal opinion. I am against any association with Mugabe."

During campaigns, Mr Chamisa often boasted about his association with Mr Mugabe.

At one rally he paraded members of National Patriotic Front (NPF), a political party formed by Mr Mugabe through proxies like Eunice Sandi-Moyo as the real Zanu-PF, which the MDC-Alliance was working with.

He also boasted that Mr Mugabe supported his presidential bid and would officially hand him power as the first president of the Second Republic.

The relationship between Mr Chamisa and Mr Mugabe became an open secret when the 94-year-old addressed a press conference at his Harare house on the eve of the elections, urging the nation to vote for Mr Chamisa.

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