Zimbabwe: Dump Chamisa, War Vets Say to MDC Ahead of Congress

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Secretary-General Victor Matemadanda (centre) flanked by Spokesperson Douglas Mahiya (left), Vice Chairman Headman Moyo( right) and other provincial executive members.

War veterans have waded in the MDC's internal politics with their spokesperson Douglas Mahiya saying the main opposition should emerge from its May elective congress with a mature leader.

Mahiya was speaking in an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe.com this past week.

"MDC supporters must choose a person who they feel is mature, with political aptness who will be able to take their political party forward," Mahiya said.

The MDC heads for its first elective process since the 2014 congress and the subsequent death of founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai through colon cancer last year.

Party leader Nelson Chamisa faces his first real popularity test within the main opposition with a possible challenge set to emerge from his 2014 conqueror Douglas Mwonzora. The two heavy weights contested for the post of secretary general.

But war veterans feel anyone who emerges to occupy the country's most influential political job outside Zanu PF has a lot to do with stability in the country.

"That person must be someone who knows the values of being in opposition, political consciousness of the party; not a leader who just opposes for the sake of opposing.

"A leader who cannot oppose the ruling party's good policies for the sake of opposing, but positive criticism," said the Zanu PF loyalist.

Since becoming MDC president following Tsvangirai's death, the 41-year-old Chamisa has emerged an equally strong opposition leader who has given Zanu PF a good run for its money.

War veterans in December last year tried to sponsor a resolution to push to 52, the minimum age one could be allowed to contest in presidential elections. The suggestion was widely seen as an attempt to block Chamisa from taking part in the next two electoral contests.

In his weekend comments, Mahiya did not hide his detest for Chamisa's return to being MDC president.

"We are tired of an opposition leader who even blames the ruling party for a cloudy day because it was supposed to be sunny," he said.

"As war veterans, we went to war for everyone to enjoy the freedom to choose who they want to lead them and we will not give the opposition a name to choose.

"But this is their chance to choose a mature person who will benefit both their party and the country."

After the 30 July election last year, war veterans did not hide their preferences for Mwonzora as opposition leader.

They accused Chamisa and ex-finance minister Tendai Biti of fanning violence soon after the widely disputed polls.

War veterans secretary general Victor Matemadanda said then, "Those who voted for Mwonzora to the post of secretary general ahead of Chamisa should stand up and throw Chamisa to the dust bin. MDC is now losing its values because of Chamisa. He is just like his mentor (former Zanu PF strong man Robert Mugabe), a dictator."

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