By Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa has dismissed criticism around his role in the ongoing party congress processes, arguing his predecessor the late Morgan Tsvangirai did the same at four elective indabas.
In an interview with newzimbabwe.com, Chamisa gave the example of how he was “shut out” of the nomination process in Manicaland in the run-up to the 2014 congress, at which secretary general Douglas Mwonzora was eventually elected.
“As president, it is my duty to oversee all the processes and make sure that they taking place according to laid down procedures, together with all the other leaders.
“You know president Tsvangirai, as party leader, oversaw four congresses. So there is a role that has always been played by the president and his leadership team. They grace provincial congresses to make sure all procedures are being followed,” said Chamisa.
Then party organising secretary, Chamisa in 2014, was involved in a bitter tussle for the position of secretary general with Mwonzora. The youthful politician, had been nominated at almost all provincial congress for the position, before Tsvangirai intervened in Manicaland leading to Mwonzora being nominated. With that single nomination Mwonzora triumphed against all odds before Chamisa was elevated to the position of vice president by Tsvangirai in 2014.
“You will remember, at the congress where Mwonzora was elected secretary general, president Tsvangirai actually conducted the accreditation for Manicaland province.
“He (Tsvangirai), is the one who presided over the election because there were questions around the organising secretary, at the time myself being the man in charge. He (Mwonzora) had raised conflict of interest issues and we understood him,” Chamisa told newzimbabwe.com.
“So the president has always been there. In fact in this congress, the president and the standing committee have been to the various congresses in the provinces.”
There have been howls of disapproval regarding Chamisa’s active role in the provincial congresses, amid claims he was railroading most into endorsing his candidature.
Mwonzora had been touted as a possible challenger to Chamisa, who took over the reins of power in controversial circumstances following Tsvangirai’s death on Valentines’ Day last year.
However, the former Nyanga North lawmaker has been giving mixed messages, initially making a public statement to the effect that he would no longer challenge Chamisa but instead seek to keep his current position, before claiming he had been pushed into the decision because of the murky nature of the process.
The row over the internal elections escalated after the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Japhet Moyo dismissed claims he was chairing the MDC independent electoral commission overseeing the election.
Mwonzora had claimed he had written to Moyo registering his displeasure at the manner the internal process was being conducted. To which Moyo had no kind words arguing the claims were a plot to soil his image as he had never been approached by the MDC to run the polls.
But Chamisa, while not giving specific names, said the ZCTU was part of a group of pro-democracy groups charged with running the MDC congress.
“The independent electoral management body is appointed by the national council and we have drawn names from ZCTU, Zimbabwe National Students Union, Heal Zimbabwe, the youth movement and women’s movement. In general those are the people who are in that body. Those are the ones that will conduct the nominations for the main congress and the election,” said Chamisa.
Amid reports of violence, manipulation, intimidation and vote buying as well as “midnight polling” Chamisa said he was happy with the process thus far.
“We are so excited that we have deepened our democracy. For the first time you have not seen any violence in the nature or manner you saw when president Tsvangirai instituted an inquiry in 2011 or even earlier in the other year where people would be fighting over positions. This has not happened, the process has been very peaceful and we have seen amity in the 10 provinces. We have seen very robust debate, the party is very organic and the footprint national in nature,” the opposition leader said.