May 25, 2019

Mwonzora puts party leader Nelson Chamisa into checkmate

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MDC Secretary-General Douglas Mwonzora, buoyed by a resurgent support base among the opposition party’s structures across the country, has declared that all expulsions and suspensions of party members are null and void.

Mwonzora said this as Chamisa had given an ultimatum to Masvingo Mayor Advocate Collins Maboke, a Mwonzora ally, to step down and revert to a councillor within a week or risk being fired from the party altogether. Chamisa’s ultimatum, which was issued last Saturday when he held a meeting in Masvingo, expired last night, but Mwonzora has declared that all suspensions of party members that may happen are null and void.

This means the structures put in place at the 2014 congress, at which he soundly beat party leader Nelson Chamisa for the post of secretary-general and are seen as loyal to him, will be the ones to chose the new leadership of the party.

Mwonzora, who is expected to challenge Chamisa for the position of party president, wrote to all provincial, district and ward chairpersons amid allegations that there were senior officials tampering with the structures to impose their preferred people who will vote at the congress.

“Please, be advised that the national standing committee has directed that after the setting of main congress dates by the national council, no expulsion or suspension of members shall be valid without the specific approval of the standing committee,” the letter, dated March 21, reads.

He also clarified the party’ position on members who stood as independent candidates, that they are not eligible to contest, while those that supported them can stand. In several constituencies, the party lost to Zanu PF after fielding multiple candidates.

“Please, further note that the only people disqualified from contesting congress positions are, (a) those who stood as independents, (b) those who stood as candidates for other political parties.

“Specifically, it was ruled that those who allegedly supported independent candidates or other candidates are not covered by this disqualification,” the letter, which was copied to Chamisa, national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo and organising secretary Amos Chibaya, added.

Canvassing for support has reached fever pitch in the MDC, with the majority openly endorsing Chamisa, although there is fear of another surprise victory for Mwonzora, who will enter the race as an underdog.

Mwonzora is expected to challenge Chamisa at the party’s congress slated for 24 May.

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