By Leopold Munhende
ELIAS Mashavira, the man behind a recent High Court ruling that nullified Nelson Chamisa’s presidency, says he was not fighting the youthful opposition leader but the dangerous precedence set by his chaotic ascendancy to the top MDC job.
In an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe.com this week, Mashavira also denied claims he was being used by Zanu PF to pursue a court action that could potentially destroy the main opposition party.
He said he was just a mere “cattle herder” and an opposition stickler for the MDC constitution who was worried about the precedence Chamisa had set that one could just emerge and grab power outside the MDC governing charter.
“This is not a Zanu PF matter, I do not support Zanu PF. I was once beaten up by Zanu PF. I have scars from June 2008. I was almost killed by Zanu PF.
“I support Chamisa but I am pained by the fact that the party is failing to follow the dictates of its own constitution,” said the 55-year-old, who was in 2014 elected MDC district organising secretary for Sesame.
The recent judgement by High Court judge Edith Mushore further nullified late founding MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s 2016 appointment of Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as deputy presidents.
They joined Thokozani Khupe, who was substantive VP elected at a party elective congress 2014.
The ruling also ordered the MDC to return to its 2014 structures and conduct an extra-ordinary congress within the next one month to elect a party leadership as dictated by the constitution.
The court ruling, which could potentially ruin Chamisa’s ambitions of keeping control of MDC, let alone become the country’s President, has ignited a frenzy within the main opposition with some party followers subjecting the firebrand activist to bitter social media abuse.
But Mashavira denied any intentions to prevent Chamisa from becoming party leader.
“I have no problem with Chamisa leading the MDC,” he said.
“All I want is for us (MDC) to just follow the constitution. It will help us in the future to avoid people just popping up and declaring themselves presidents,” he said.
Following Tsvangirai’s death 2018, Chamisa was quick to railroad party organs to declare him acting president as a temporary measure to fill up the leadership vacuum.
Those least amused by what they found to be a brazen attack on the party’s constitution were his co-VPs, Thokozani Khupe and Elias Mudzuri and secretary general Douglas Mwonzora.
Mudzuri and Mwonzora have both been fingered in some quarters as having sponsored the shock court action.
The two were elbowed out of the race to become party president ahead of the MDC elective congress in a week’s time.
Chamisa won nomination from all the party’s 13 provinces and becomes the only party official to approach congress guaranteed of his job.
Mashavira also denied his action was being sponsored by Chamisa competitors within the party.
“If they say I was sent, they will be lying to themselves. I realised this (violation of constitution) when I was deep in the rural areas of Gokwe herding my cattle while reading the party constitution.
“When I raised the issues with some of my colleagues in the district, they started labelling me a sell-out, they did not want to talk about it until I received help to source a lawyer.
“There is no one behind my court application. This is a blatant lie. If there is actually anybody behind me, that person can only be me.”
Mashavira believes Khupe should take over and Chamisa must allow her to oversee the extraordinary congress processes.
However, this is far not a favourable option for Chamisa followers who fear a return to the 2014 structures as dictated by the court will shift power to Mwonzora, famed for defeating Chamisa to the post of secretary general at the time.