By Staff Reporter
THE opposition MDC’s elective congress roared into life this week with elections at lower structures, amid fist fights in some areas and claims of manipulation.
Insiders who talked to NewZimbabwe.com said senior leaders in the party were manipulating the process by stuffing key structures with their “supporters” in a bid to pre-determine the outcome of higher structures.
“The whole thing is a charade. Normally congress means all positions are elected even at branch level but there has been an instruction that only ten people be chosen at each level. The idea is to manage the process and direct it towards a predetermined outcome.
“Our structure at every level including portfolio secretaries is made up of up to 50 or so people but that has all been stopped,” a source said. “This is all predetermined. We are just going through the motions to hoodwink the world into believing that we are a democratic institution.”
But MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume was quick to dismiss this as baseless.
“People will always have things to say but this is democracy on display. We as a party are the crucible of democracy in Zimbabwe and our people as well as the competition must sit up and take notice of how politics should be played,” said Mafume.
The Harare councilor however admitted the party’s congress at the lower structures will not include portfolio secretaries.
“There is no manipulation because the numbers will be as stipulated in the constitution. There could be a delay because of logistics but everything will be to the letter and spirit of our governance charter,” the MDC spokesperson said.
Sources within the MDC said there had been skirmishes in Highfield, Dzivarasekwa and Glen Norah in Harare.
“There are fist-fights all over. Its chaotic. There are specific instructions to elect or choose certain people in order to come up with a specific result. There are instructions to stop anyone suspected to be a (Douglas) Mwonzora (MDC secretary general) supporters.
“The 10 people elected at branch will elect another 10 at ward and the process goes up like that. Its clear manipulation,” NewZimbabwe.com heard. “There is a lot of coercion and victimisation.”
Mwonzora has indicated he wants to challenge incumbent Nelson Chamisa for the presidency. For this, he has been the target of verbal attacks and threats from party activists who feel 41 year-old Chamisa is the party “best foot forward.”
According to the sources, there is a push to amend the party’s constitution and dissolve key structures such as the provincial executives, districts as well as wards at the upcoming congress.
“The idea is to make sure the leader of the party is insulated, as far away from the people as possible and create only branches that are so big nobody would have access to the top,” another source said.
Mafume said the provinces will remain but there is ongoing debate to reduce the number.
“We are complying with the constitution. Chitungwiza has been incorporated into Harare while we will have Midlands province instead of north and south. Its an amendment which should have been implemented in 2014 but did not.
“We comply with the constitution and complain. Congress will have the final say,” said Mafume.
The main congress has been slated for end of May.