By Nigel Pfunde and Fungayi Chimbindi
MDC Alliance’s secretary- general Douglas Mwonzora survived the chop and escaped with a ‘last warning’ at the party’s national council meeting held on Friday in an outcome that came as a shocker as his head was believed to be on the guillotine.
Impeccable sources told the Mail and Telegraph that Mwonzora headlined the tense meeting as a litany of allegations of gross indiscipline were levelled against him.
“There meeting was more like a Mwonzora meeting because he was the topic of discussion as he was accused of all sorts of indiscipline including disrespect for the president (Chamisa) and secretly working with ZANU PF among other allegations, there was a general consensus that Mwonzora must go but Wamba (Chamisa) surprisingly had a final decision to let him stay but he warned him,” revealed our source.
The ‘cold war’ between Mwonzora and Chamisa is an open secret and the tension between them is so visible that one can cut it with a knife.
Mwonzora and Chamisa tiff genesis
The tiff between the two dates back to the party’s national congress held in 2014 when Mwonzora defeated Chamisa for the secretary-general post and he (Chamisa) had to be saved by the late president Morgan Tsvangirai’s benevolence when he smuggled him into the presidium via backdoor in order to maintain his hold on power.
Tsvangirai ‘threw the constitution outside the window’ in an undemocratic fashion and unilaterally appointed Chamisa a vice president.
The cold war reached its tipping point when Mwonzora insinuated that he was going to contest for presidency in the party’s national elective congress set for next year on a date yet to be announced.
He (Mwonzora) confirmed his position in an interview with the Mail and Telegraph last month.
“I have read speculative reports in the newspapers and that still remains speculation but I have my rights as a member of the party and the rights I know I have include the right to elect office bearers or to be elected as an office bearer so I will make my decision when the time comes,” he told this publication then.
Basing on such party dynamics, many expected Chamisa to expel Mwonzora on Friday but sources say it was actually Chamisa who ‘saved’ and gave him a ‘last warning’ verdict.
Congress build up
MDC Alliance is heading towards an elective congress and murmurs within the party suggests Chamisa wants to eliminate all form of competition and be endorsed as the party’s leader.
After Tsvangirai’s death Chamisa swiftly moved in, ringfenced his position which the National executive had to endorse as the youthful leader ‘ avoided’ a congress where he was likely to face vice president Elias Mudzuri, the then vice president Thokozani khupe and possibly Mwonzora.
The build up to the congress is opening a cane of worms as internal strife is threatening the MDC social fabric with supporters now torn amid the centre as some are now backing “the mature Mwonzora.”
Insiders say Mwonzora is holding on to the constitution as he manuovres his way through the landmines ahead of the congress.
“Mwonzora is sticking to the constitution and that is why he cannot be expelled. The allegations which are leveled against him are purely a constitutional crisis because his decisions are informed by what the MDC supreme law says,” opined the source.
“However, some who are close to Chamisa want the youthful leader to disregard the constitution and keep on politicking.”
The infighting has spilled into the social media where senior party officials clash and vent their anger.
Why did Chamisa save Mwonzora?
Given the tension that has developed between Chamisa and Mwonzora, there was no reason for the MDC Alliance leader to stop Mwonzora from being purged in a hitted national council meeting on Friday.
Insiders say Chamisa’s move was calculative because he realised that purging Mwonzora would pave way for his estwhile nemisis, Tendai Biti, who is the only capable candidate to take over since he has been readmitted into the party.
When Chamisa reshuffled the leadership of the party he kept Biti at bay and appointed him a ceremonial vice chairperson, a post that is less influential.
Sources say Biti’s appointment was meant to keep away from the throne. “Biti is very aggressive and once given an influential post he can wiggle his way to the throne so Chamisa had to play his balls carefully,” said the source.
“It is this fear that informed Chamisa’s decision to stop Mwonzora from being purged,” added the source: “Mwonzora is a better devil than Biti.”
“Chamisa realised that if he expels Mwonzora, Biti is the most qualified candidate for the secretary-general post and he knows that Biti is more power hungry than Mwonzora and he (Biti) also has a large following and is too vocal meaning Wamba will have problems in controlling the party. So he decided that it’s better to have a weakened Mwonzora than a strong Biti.
“The SG post is the most powerful position in the party and Biti as a former finance minister has links to fund his campaign. Remember Biti is the one who used to lead a a grouping within the party called Team Yamdara where he handled funds that came from a local business mogul (name withheld) during our last congress.Chamisa knows that Biti is an intelligent fool anogona kumhanya nechinhu (to take over),” explained the source.
The submission by our source renders Mwonzora ‘a necessary evil’ for Chamisa to maintain his political hegemony.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Jacob Mafume confirmed that Mwonzora was discussed but hastened to say an “amicable solution” was reached.
“Yes, the issue of party discipline came up for discussion.Senior leadership eventually gave guidance to junior members on the way forward.We are a democratic party capable of resolving our internal democracy,” he was quoted as saying.
The Mail and Telegraph contacted Mwonzora on Saturday and he refused to comment.