Harare – There was chaos at the recently held media briefing organised by the MDC-Alliance on Thursday in Harare, with events preceding the infamous “stupid” rant by party leader Nelson Chamisa headlined by confusion, the Mail and Telegraph can reveal.
The confusion was like a ‘graphic illustration’ of the in-fighting and power mongering that has been widely reported to hound the party.
The press briefing was initially held to give clarity on the party’s official position after its leader Chamisa had been invited to make contributions to the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 post -election violence which saw six lives being lost.
As such, the party’s spokesperson or secretary-general was naturally expected to deliver the official prepared speech.
However, such was not the case as there was a lot of bickering and breach of protocol took centre stage.This eventually saw the leader, Chamisa, making an impromptu address that ended up in a disastrous gaffe that he had to later retract on Thursday night.
First on the podium was party spokesperson Jacob Mafume who left the microphone to Vice-President Morgan Komichi.
Komichi then introduced party leader Chamisa who in turn introduced secretary –general Douglas Mwonzora in a clear breach of protocol.
Mwonzora then read the official speech which was supposed to conclude the press briefing but surprisingly Chamisa returned to the podium where he said Mwonzora had “provoked” him (in a positive way) and engaged the media for a question and answer session that ultimately led to the infamous remarks in which he labelled some sections of his supporters “stupid” for participating in the violent demonstrations.
He later retracted the statement later on the same day after wide criticism for ‘throwing his supporters under the bus’.
His remarks were:
“It was very stupid even for people who demonstrated to demonstrate for the results to be released, it was stupid because they then opened themselves for attacks and for manipulation. I think whoever demonstrated ,they have their right but I feel that it was not called for,”
A political commentator who spoke to the Mail and Telegraph on condition of anonymity said the bickering by senior members on the podium and breach of protocol was a sign of mistrust and disorder in the MDC-Alliance.
“That was a serious breach of protocol which shows confusion in the MDC-Alliance, picture a scenario where President Emmerson Mnangagwa is introducing Obert Mpofu who is ZANU PF secretary for admistration. I can safely call that political osmosis if I am to coin my own phrase,” said the political commentator.
“It simply shows great mistrust in the party and the leadership is not following its mandated duties. Chamisa was the accused and how can the accused be allowed to make a speech at an event where journalists were invited to hear the official party position in regard to their invitation to the Commision of Inquiry. Obviously, as an accused person, Chamisa was bound to be emotional and I don’t blame him for his regrettable remarks, I blame those who allowed him to speak at the podium,” he said.
He further submitted that Chamisa’s rant must not be taken lightly as it was a ‘blame game’ where he was absolving himself from inciting violence and passing blame to other senior members.
“That statement was very pregnant with political innuendo where he was passing blame to Tendai Biti and Happymore Chidziva.
“It is fact that Biti held a press conference in which he threatened not to accept results if they do not win and Chidziva’s video threatening and inciting violence went viral and it is plain to see that Chamisa was blaming these guys because he never publicly incited violence unless he did so by remote control as party leader,” he added.
MDC Alliance sources said prior to the holding of the press conference the standing committee had agreed that Chamisa was not going to speak.
“We had agreed that he (Chamisa) was not going to speak but he seized the opportunity without the blessings of the other members. Obviously he felt Mwonzora had stole the limelight,” said the source.