MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was on Sunday booed by his supporters in Manicaland after he personally presided over an alleged “sham” provincial election to ensure his favoured candidates won.
This was after the executive led by Shuah Mudiwa walked out in protest.
Tsvangirai caused another storm when he skipped Kuwadzana East MP and party national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa’s name while introducing candidates vying for the secretary-general’s position and only mentioned party spokesperson and ex-Nyanga North MP Douglas Mwonzora.
Party insiders said the move was to save face for Mwonzora who until Sunday had not yet garnered a single nomination from the party’s 12 provinces.
NewsDay witnessed Tsvangirai personally vetting district members from Chikanga-Dangamvura constituency where several party members believed to be sympathetic to Mudiwa were disqualified amid chaotic scenes as they protested against the ex-Premier’s involvement.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka yesterday said his boss only intervened to ensure the smooth flow of the process.
“The extent of Mr Tsvangirai’s involvement was to make sure that the process proceeds well. Now that the provincial meetings have come to an end, there will be a national executive meeting on Saturday and everyone with complaints will come forward,” Tamborinyoka said.
“His involvement was just to dampen rising tempers and if there is anyone who feels prejudiced, there will be a national executive meeting to deal with that.”
Mudiwa and his executive committee walked out after it became apparent that most of their backers had been disqualified from the voting process, and his rival David Chimhini eventually won the chairmanship.
Mudiwa yesterday said his executive members walked out after it apparently became clear that the elections would not be free and fair with Tsvangirai’s involvement.
He vowed to disregard the “shambolic election results” and continue in office until free and fair elections have been held.
“The whole process was just a Charlie Chaplin comedy designed to cause humour and laughter, anxiety and mercy for those who have the spirit of democracy in their minds and instil strength in those who have the spirit of dictatorship,” Mudiwa said.
“We don’t recognise what happened on Sunday and we will continue working as the provincial executive for the good of the party. We are not joining any other party as some will want to suggest.”
One of Mudiwa’s executive members, who declined to be named, said: “We felt that we were not respected as a provincial executive after going around the province restructuring districts, correcting the districts where there were parallel structures due to factionalism.”
The executive member added: “We were doing this using our own resources for the good of the party and in one spirit of building this party for a future vibrant, crystal-clear democracy.
“On the day in question after going through the accreditation from 9am, we had several districts that were in conflict and after full agreement to the effect that those districts cannot participate, the president [Tsvangirai] intervened and let everyone, even hired non-members, to get into Sakubva Beit Hall to vote. The president, with the blessings of some standing committee members, chose to ignore the norms and he [Tsvangirai] had earlier on addressed the assembly contrary to national council rules which state that the sitting executive has to go through a two-thirds confirmation. That was ignored,” another senior party member said.
But Chimhini yesterday maintained that his election was above board.
He will be deputised by Aaron Gandanga, with Webber Chinyadza as organising secretary and Itayi Masaka becoming youth chairperson, while Joyce Makonya will lead the women’s wing.
Meanwhile, the province gave Mwonzora his first nomination for the position of secretary-general and nominated Chamisa for the position of spokesperson, which he denied through a representative.
In an interview yesterday, Mwonzora said he was confident of pipping Chamisa at congress although the latter has received nominations from 11 provinces.
Chamisa declined to comment over his snubbing by Tsvangirai and the chaos that marred the Manicaland provincial polls.
“I just wish my brother Mwonzora good luck at congress,” was all Chamisa said yesterday.
In a related development, MDC-T Bulawayo Senator Matson Hlalo has said he would today approach the courts seeking to overturn the results of the party’s provincial elections, where he lost to the city’s deputy mayor, Gift Banda.
Hlalo told Southern Eye yesterday that he had resolved to take the legal route because he had lost faith in the party’s internal processes.
The MDC-T senator alleged that the elections that saw Banda polling by 707 votes against his 413 were marred by violence, vote-buying and reports of ballot stuffing.
He also accused Tsvangirai of personally accrediting delegates to deliberately rig elections in favour of Banda.
MDC-T deputy organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe, who also faces charges of rigging the polls, has dismissed the charges.