BY BLESSED MHLANGA/ Brenna Matendera
THE just-ended MDC congress has passed a potentially-explosive resolution that empowers its leader Nelson Chamisa to push for the ouster of President Emmerson Mnangagwa before his five-year term expires.
The congress that saw the former MDC secretary-generals Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti, who led two separate splits from the late president Morgan Tsvangirai making a comeback after clinching crucial wins to become vice-presidents, wants Chamisa’s leadership to pursue all constitutional means, including demonstrations or talks that would result in the removal of the current government from power.
Newly-elected party chairperson Tabitha Khumalo read the resolutions on behalf of the party after also clinching victory to retain her seat in elections that relegated party heavyweights, who include secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and vice-president Morgen Komichi to ordinary card-carrying members.
Charlton Hwende took over from Mwonzora, while Lynette Karenyi-Kore was elected the party’s vice-president in tightly contested polls that also saw the return of David Coltart as the new treasurer-general, beating former Economic Planning minister Tapiwa Mashakada.
Former MDC99 leader Job Sikhala also completed a comeback, after securing the deputy national chairperson position in polls that also saw outgoing youth leader Happymore Chidziva relegated to an ordinary party member.
Part of the resolutions read: “Congress takes note of the multiple crises affecting and arresting Zimbabwe which includes crisis of legitimacy, of governance, of lack of confidence, economy disequilibrium, and breakdown of the rule of law, corruption and massive closure of political space.”
The resolutions added: “Congress, therefore, resolves that the party must urgently implement measures to address and resolve the national crises. Which measures include the following: Defending and protecting the people of Zimbabwe and the Constitution through proactive informed processes of engagement that include advocacy and mobilisation, including the exercise of the people’s constitutional right to petition and protest as protected by section 59 of the Constitution.”
Chamisa and the MDC have consistently and insistently accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of stealing the July 2018 presidential electoral results in favour of Mnangagwa.
Although Chamisa’s Constitutional Court bid to overturn the result failed, the party maintains Mnangagwa is illegitimate.
“In order to resolve the national crisis, congress mandated the party to engage in a national dialogue to reach a political settlement through a transitional mechanism. Any such dialogue must be credible and bankable, anchored on five key pillars which are: Return to legitimacy and normalcy, a comprehensive reform agenda, nation building and peace building, an end to international isolation, resolving the economic and humanitarian situation,” further read the resolutions.
In an attempt to deal with legitimacy issues also swirling around the leadership of Chamisa, the MDC congress endorsed all decisions made by Tsvangirai in appointing Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as party vice-presidents as well as endorsed the national council resolution that catapulted Chamisa into power.
In an effort to deal with internal rifts, the MDC congress barred any of its members from taking the party to court before exhausting internal remedies provided for by the party.
They also formally accepted the expulsion of former deputy president Thokozani Khupe, former spokesperson Obert Gutu and former organising secretary Abedinico Bhebe, who refused to join Chamisa and went on to dismally lose last year’s election as MDC-T.
Chamisa emerged from the congress with some form of legitimacy although a cloud still hovers over his head as he waits for a Supreme Court appeal against Justice Edith Mushore’s judgment which ruled that he lacked the legitimacy to preside over a congress. In his acceptance speech, Chamisa thanked party supporters for voting peacefully and shunning violence.
“You made a speech, you made a speech since Friday, your speech was through your hardwork, resolute attention to discipline, peaceful election and a democratic osmosis of ideas and the love that you have demonstrated for our country,” Chamisa said.
The former Information Communication Technology minister said the MDC was growing under the mark and vision of Tsvangirai, who groomed leaders in the party now taking them on a new trajectory.
Chamisa said he would be deploying top members of his executive onto the African continent on a diplomatic charm offensive to sell the party and its transformational agenda.
“I was talking to people, saying this team of leaders is the best. With the likes of Biti and Professor Ncube, we have the best team,” he said.
There were pockets of dissent as other losing candidates alleged rigging, especially ballot-stuffing and manipulation of the voters’ roll.
Zanu PF, meanwhile, has warmed Chamisa against plans to unleash demonstrations in a bid to force government to act, saying such a move would be resisted.
Addressing a Press conference at party headquarters, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo said Chamisa should not attempt to demonstrate as this would cause bloodshed.
“The declaration by Chamisa that ‘as soon as the MDC-Alliance congress ends, it will be war’, naturally exhibits the party’s retrogressive nature. This is the height of misguided conduct,” Khaya-Moyo said.
The MDC announced that it would soon roll out demonstrations to force Mnangagwa to act on the economy which has been collapsing as well as end corruption, among other ills.
The party said the protest would be peaceful, but Khaya Moyo said violence was bound to erupt.
“In that regard, the Zanu PF party will never stand akimbo while merchants of violence epitomised by Chamisa continue on their violent trail of destruction, which not-so-long ago, resulted in the death of people and destruction of property in the country,” Khaya-Moyo said.