Explaining the confusion in MDC-T primaries - Part I of II

 Explaining the confusion in MDC-T primaries - Part I of II
Published: 27 May 2018 (277 Views)
Explaining the confusion in MDC-T primaries: Mwonzora is being targeted in all this fracas. The pro-Chamisa camp is targeting the December party congress

Part I of II
Nelson Chamisa is the main source of troubles bedeviling the MDC structures in Harare West, Chikanga-Dangamvura, Mabvuku-Tafara, Glen View West, and other areas. Chamisa is subtly re-configuring the structures that support Mwonzora ahead of the December congress, because he knows he was beaten clean last time. Chamisa is also not in the national elections to win the vote: he already privately admits he will lose and thus has set his eyes on the party congress in December. All else that we see him doing is pure political grandstanding. It is a pity the rank and file members do not have such information.

How did we get here?

It all started at the MDC-T 4th National Congress held from 31 October to 1 November, 2014, at the City Sports Centre in Harare. The MDC-T was forced to hold an early congress after party secretary general Tendai Biti and deputy national treasurer Elton Mangoma formed the MDC Renewal Team following a fallout with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Highlights of that Congress were that MDC-T bigwigs Nelson Chamisa and Tapiwa Mashakada were reduced to ordinary card carrying members after they lost dismally.
Chamisa went into the election a clear favourite for the Secretary-General post having been nominated by nine provinces against Douglas Mwonzora's one. This made Chamisa the early favourite to replace Biti. But the tables were turned against him when Mwonzora garnered 2,464 against his 1,762 during the secret ballot.

Shocked by the result, Chamisa left the venue quietly before the announcement of the election results. He was never to be seen or heard from until after a week, when he emerged holding a Bible in some thickets outside Kuwadzana.

The party's acting Secretary General Tapiwa Mashakada lost to Theresa Makone for the post of national treasurer, while Abednico Bhebhe beat Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya to land the post of organizing secretary. Lynette Karenyi beat Lillian Timveos for the Women's League boss position.

Obert Gutu won the post of secretary for information and publicity unopposed. Paurina Mpariwa (Deputy Secretary-General) also won unopposed.

 Party national executive member Chalton Hwende beat Bernard Chionde to the post of deputy national treasurer by a hair-raising 7 votes: 1,763 against 1,756.

Party deputy national chairperson Morgan Komichi against Gift Chimanikire.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe and national chairperson Lovemore Moyo were retained unopposed.

In a nutshell, the outcome of the 2014 MDC-T congress meant the top 6 winners were:
1. Morgan Tsvangirai (President),
2. Thokozani Khupe (Vice President),
3. Lovemore Moyo (National Chairman),
4. Theresa Makone (Treasurer),
5. Douglas Mwonzora (Secretary-General),
6. Obert Gutu (Information and Publicity Secretary),
7. Morgan Komichi (National Chairperson),
8. Chalton Hwende (Deputy Treasurer-General),
9. Lynette Karenyi (Women's league Secretary)
10. Paurina Mpariwa (Deputy Secretary-General),
11. Abednico Bhebhe (Organising Secretary),
12. Thamsanqa Mahlangu (Deputy Organising Secretary)
13. Thabitha Khumalo (Deputy Information and Publicity Secretary),
14. Happymore Chidziva (Youth Assembly Chairperson)

Out of 14 top members voted at the last congress, only 4 remain in control of the party. The rest present power-holders in the party have been brought in without support of proper MDC-T structures that vote at congress.

Of the members voted by congress in 2014, the top three are no longer in control of the party. Khupe and Moyo are gone. number 4, Theresa Makone, has had her powers as Treasurer-General whittled down by Chalton Hwende who now has access to party funds alongside Chamisa. Number 5, Mwonzora, is being targeted for political elimination at upcoming the December party Congress. Number 6, Obert Gutu, went with Khupe. Number 9, Karenyi, is known to be pro-Mwonzora and has her Chikanga-Dangamvura constituency targeted by Hwende and Utseyami to weaken her ahead of December. Number 11, Bhebhe, went with Khupe. Number 12, Thamsanqa Mahlangu, passed on in October 2015 while Morgan Tsvangirai passed on in February 2018.

Apart from electing members of the standing committee, congress also discussed party policies and established a roadmap towards the 2018 elections.

Thrown into a ditch

All that was thrown into a ditch less than two years into the lifespan of the 4th Congress. On 15 July 2016, Tsvangirai shocked the world by appointing Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as vice presidents of the party. This was after he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

"In line with the directive given to me by the National Council, I have now appointed Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as Vice Presidents of the party," said Tsvangirai at the time.

 Details emerged that Morgan Tsvangirai defied recommendations by his party's national council (NC) on the appointment of two vice-presidents as he imposed Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri.

Senior party leaders revealed the NC meeting held the day before the shock announcement discussed a proposal for only one additional VP and not two, and did not agree on the issue before deferring the matter for further debate in a follow-up meeting.

At the meeting, sources said, the names of Chamisa and Mudzuri were not even brought up as there was no agreement on an additional VP with those against the proposal basing their argument on a 2014 party congress resolution that rejected the issue of two VPs.

However, Tsvangirai unilaterally went ahead and appointed Chamisa and Mudzuri as co-VPs after tossing away NC recommendations to defer the matter for further discussion.

The Standard newspaper quoted a senior party member saying: "The NC did not give him any mandate to appoint two VPs but recommended that the matter be deferred for further discussion in a follow-up meeting but alas, and to the surprise of everyone, Tsvangirai went ahead to announce not one but two VPs of his choice the following day flanked by his wife [Elizabeth], in complete disregard of recommendations of the NC."

Khupe, Organizing Secretary Abednico Bhebhe, Secretary-General Douglas Mwonzora and party spokesperson Obert Gutu did not attend the meeting, amid allegations that another meeting was held at Harvest House on Friday to block or even assault them for reportedly pushing ordinary party members to sue Tsvangirai over the co-VP appointments.

From then onwards, elected party officials from the 2014 Congress were pushed out or had their powers whittled down. This has continued even after Tsvangirai's death. Theresa Makone's powers as Treasurer are being usurped by Chalton Hwende in broad daylight. Elias Mudzuri too has been cowed into a corner. Mudzuri was easy to silence because he lost the 2014 Congress elections and is only in the top hierarchy by virtue of being imposed by Tsvangirai in 2016 via the backdoor.

The same elected officials who were left in the cold during the co-VP appointments were sidelined by Morgan Tsvangirai during his alliance negotiations with other opposition parties. Not that this was the first time Tsvangirai was going against his elected colleagues: in 2005 he caused the split with Welshman Ncube, David Coltart and others by disregarding the decisions of a party vote on the Senate elections.

To Nelson Chamisa, it was a good thing that Tsvangirai died before Khupe, Abednico Bhebhe and Lovemore Moyo could be brought back into the fold on the alliance sticking points.

This was the greatest set of circumstances Nelson Chamisa wanted: for him to take control of the party at a time Khupe was being sidelined. While ordinary supporters actually believe, hope and pray that there be a common ground between Khupe and Chamisa, Chamisa wants the status quo or worse. The last thing Chamisa wants right now is a united MDC-T because that would threaten or otherwise dilute his power base.

This writer has proved that it is completely false that Chamisa tried to reach out to Khupe in the days after the death of Tsvangirai. Chamisa made an impression that Khupe was playing difficult to pacify so that the media and ordinary supporters would not feel pity for Khupe when she is kicked out.

Chamisa does not care about the havoc happening in the structures

It is Chamisa who rushed to kick Khupe out of the party before exhausting all party channels to reach common ground. It's Chamisa who took matters to court to cause on the most confused legal drama just 40 days before the elections. All this points to a Chamisa who wants Khupe out of the MDC for good and by yesterday.
Seeing that Chamisa-sponsored violence was visiting them right on their doorsteps in Bulawayo, Lovemore Moyo ditched the party soon after Tsvangirai's death. Already, this has come back to haunt the party as we saw a paltry 500 to 1000 supporters at Chamisa's last week rally at Maphisa and Matopos, the home ground of Lovemore Moyo.
Bhebhe and Khupe also got fired, and so was Obert Gutu. With Khupe gone, Chamisa trained his guns on Mwonzora and Lynette Karenyi expecting them to jump ship. The biggest frustration for Chamisa was that Mwonzora and Karenyi would not go anywhere, and there never been a basis to remove them from the party. If anything is frustrating Chamisa right now, it is the fact that both Karenyi and Mwonzora have not done anything that gets them fired. This leaves Chamisa with the chance to get rid of them via the ongoing primaries (for Karenyi) and the upcoming December party Congress (for Mwonzora).

Chamisa knows the current MDC-T Constitution does not allow him to remain President for more than twelve months without calling a congress. With a congress set for December, and December fast approaching, and Mwonzora not going anywhere, Chamisa is infuriated. At best for Chamisa, Mwonzora would have been expelled by December so that Chamisa can be uncontested at the Congress and earn a full term. At worst, Mwonzora will play it cool and make sure he is not fired until December, then use his structures to wallop Chamisa as happened in 2014.

This is not what Chamisa wants. But because it's a possibility, Chamisa has a contingent measure in place: he will whittle down all of Mwonzora's support structures real or imagined. This is happening as we speak, through unfairness in the conduct of primaries. Mwonzora's allies are being targeted in a hit and run craze, they are being eliminated to pave way for sitting lame ducks Mwonzora and Karenyi by December.

The supporters in the structures being targeted are crying that this discord will affect Chamisa's chances against Mnangagwa in the presidential elections. Does Chamisa care?

No, Chamisa does not care.

>>> Continue to Part II of II

- Felix Mbonderi Chiroro

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