MY TURN WITH TICHAONA ZINDOGA
WE knew it. We knew that the succession issue in the opposition MDC-T would not pan out nicely, and that is why a few weeks back we dismissed a statement by leader Morgan Tsvangirai that sought to portray him as having settled the matter by appointing Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as additional two vice presidents of the party two years ago.
We argued that by appointing these two when he had begun battling with a life-threatening cancer he is stricken with now, he had just complicated the succession issue in the party.
Chamisa and Mudzuri were not elected at congress and their elevation — most probably illegal — had the effect of undermining the position of the elected vice president Thokozani Khupe.
Now the matter has just blown out. It has blown out of control. Khupe, a Ndebele woman, has been sidelined and the battle for the control of the party now features Chamisa and Mudzuri — two Karanga men.
There are many other prisms that you could look through the battle, which has sometimes degenerated into a veritable farce. We have been living the farce in the past few weeks.
Mudzuri and Chamisa are fighting over who is the acting president of the party. Their camps have been issuing conflicting statements about who has been “anointed” to be acting until Tsvangirai returns home.
If he can, anyway.
We are sorry, but that is not the morbid imagination of ours. The party is fiercely fighting because they imagine that Tsvangirai may not make it back home. It is preparing for the worst, with the kind of sick morbidity of vultures circling over a poor, dying wild animal.
The battle is polarising, just as many things Zimbabwean. We will try not to take sides, but someone will surely blame us for siding with a particular side. We absolutely hold no brief for anyone in the matter. We don’t have any horse in this race.
But we are watching, like everyone else, and watching with interest as the former workers’ party is being driven to the edge. It can tip over any time. It would seem that there are some people who have no qualms with this grave scenario of an implosion.
It’s called zero sum game. On both sides — the main Chamisa versus Mudzuri show — there are individuals that have sworn that they would rather leave the party than see their opponent take over.
They tell us and they tell anyone who cares to listen. Which is indicative of the poor state of Tsvangirai. If he had enough power left in him he would avert such a scenario. Poor him!
He has actually become a prisoner in this fight. We have seen the reports of how the political dispute has not only affected the organisation, but has engulfed the family as well, with relatives conflating personal and political issues.
Chamisa 3:0 Mudzuri
But it will be interesting to put a score on the ongoing political football in the MDC-T. The game is swinging from one side to the other with ferocity, but the scoreline looks favourably in Chamisa’s favour.
Here is how:
First, Chamisa is now in effective control of the party and its organs.
A few weeks and days ago, it had been identified that Chamisa did not control the structures of the party and it would favour Mudzuri and Khupe.
Chamisa has turned this around and indications are that he is firmly in control with allegiances from the Youth and Women’s Assemblies as well as provinces — including emerging support from Bulawayo which had been deemed a Khupe stronghold.
This growing support will be critical.
With the party in a free-fall, members will be lending material and moral support to Chamisa who, for his part, has moved more confidently now to assert himself.
He is showing to be a fighter and bold leader. He has stood by his claim that he is Tsvangirai’s anointed one, till Tsvangirai returns, which has been subject of much debate. He has gone on to convene meetings with party organs such as Standing Committee and National Council.
They are being well attended — and legal, from where we sit.
Connected to this, and secondly, Chamisa is chairing the MDC Alliance and he has the support of other principals such as Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube.
Chamisa is now the leader of the big tent and there is no question about it. The big tent is an aspirational construct of a strong and united MDC that was. We saw a standoff in Chitungwiza a few days back when Mudzuri refused to speak before Chamisa at an alliance rally. Chamisa won.
Thirdly, and most importantly, Chamisa is now in charge of Harvest House, the party’s headquarters. On Tuesday, Mudzuri was allegedly barred from entering Harvest House to address a press conference there and had to retreat to his house in Milton Park where he called journalists to collect press statements.
That is a significant show of where power now resides. The dynamics of MDC-T are well known. Tsvangirai initiated this kind of modus operandi as he kicked out — and literally so — rivals such as Ncube, Mangoma and Biti.
The Harvest House is the territory of the fittest and Chamisa is apparently the fittest at the moment. We can’t imagine Khupe trying to set foot at Harvest House: in fact, she has long shunned coming to the party headquarters which had been under apparatus loyal to Tsvangirai.
Now the same apparatus is at the service of Chamisa. It is a hard hat area, and we do not expect any soft noses here. We are being euphemistic. But we are not accusing Chamisa of violence. There are unseen forces that have worked so well previously in determining who controls the turf. The next level of infighting will be interesting.C
We expect somebody and his group of backers, and that is either way, to be fired for fanning factionalism, causing divisions, using hate speech, bringing the name of the party into disrepute, etc. We know the usual charge sheet. Let’s see who will be on the attack, and who will take this one.