MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, pictured, has been warned against betraying his late predecessor Morgan Tsvangirai’s legacy, which saw the former prime minister becoming the only person ever to defeat Zimbabwe’s late ex-leader Robert Mugabe in an election, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the MDC, the country’s largest opposition party, is being ravaged by ugly factional and tribal wars which Chamisa himself recently admitted were causing him ‘many a sleepless night’.
Now, Chamisa is being challenged not just to emulate the clarity of vision, courage and selflessness of Tsvangirai, but to also take a more robust approach against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government.
Speaking at Tsvangirai’s memorial lecture last week, the brother of the late former labour unionist, Manase, strongly warned Chamisa against betraying his late brother’s legacy — whom he said had “sacrificed everything for the people’s struggle”.
“Morgan was a torch-bearer and this fire must not be extinguished by those who are greedy and selfish.
We must know where we came from and are going.
“Chamisa is our son, although he is now the party president. In Shona they say ‘munhu pangwa zano uine rako’ (one must have one’s own ideas even as one gets advice from others).
“We need to get to our destination, but also beware those who throw spanners onto our way,” Manase said.
“Let us properly define our destination and when we arrive, we will all be happy. Let there be no betrayal of our old man (Tsvangirai),” he further told people who gathered at the MDC’s headquarters for his brother’s memorial.
Manase also warned MDC officials against abandoning the people who voted them into power, and concentrating solely on the benefits that came with holding public office.
“There are times when we say all is well when nothing is moving. Some even forget their constituencies because all they want are the fuel coupons they get from Parliament.
“That will not take us anywhere,” he warned.
In response, Chamisa assured Manase that Tsvangirai’s legacy was safe with him.
“Do not worry uncle, the party is not going anywhere … is here to stay because we were shown the way by our great leader.
“He (Morgan) gave us the vision and we will simply follow that. So, there will be no betrayal,” he assured Manase.
This comes as the MDC is witnessing escalating chaos among its structures nationally — some of which has readily been admitted to by the party itself and ascribed to leadership incompetence.
It also comes as the MDC is still struggling to heal the rifts that were caused by Chamisa’s highly-contested ascendancy to the party’s leadership in 2018, following the death of Tsvangirai — who succumbed to cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day that year.
Speaking in Bulawayo last month, a day after dissolving the MDC’s Masvingo provincial executive, Chamisa himself bemoaned the factional and tribal wars that are threatening to destroy the party around the country.
“Tribalism is a new phenomenon that is emerging in the party of late … It is a headache for me.
“This is a new phenomenon that we have to confront and that is part of the reason why I am engaging structures to make sure we get to the bottom of this issue,” he told the media at the Bulawayo Press Club.
The 42 year-old opposition leader addressed journalists a day after he had wielded the axe on the entire Masvingo executive — amid claims of growing factionalism and leadership incompetence.
The development came in the aftermath of an embarrassing electoral loss by the MDC in the province, where Zanu PF won the Mwenezi Ward 15 council seat on a canter.
Zanu PF’s candidate, Samuel Kwinika, amassed a massive 1 811 votes against a paltry 27 votes by the opposition party’s Shepherd Dzuda.
Chamisa told the press in the second city that he was determined to end the tribal wars which he said had also affected the Bulawayo City Council (BCC).
“I have seen that in local authorities, and now you hear these undertones of tribalism. It is important to understand that as the MDC this is an issue that we have to confront.
“When we formed the MDC, most of the people … were actually from Matabeleland, but we were not looking at regions.
“We were looking at the content of the character of an individual in terms of nation building. That is how it has always been,” Chamisa said then.
Meanwhile, academic Ibbo Mandaza — who was guest of honour at the Tsvangirai memorial lecture — bluntly told the gathering that the MDC was too soft in dealing with Zanu PF.
“Morgan’s courage and bravery was second to none. He had the courage to stand up against the post-colonial State, which now looks obvious.
“The MDC has become compliant and that does not augur well. There is need to confront the regime and to be successful Chamisa must take advantage of the fact that more than 98 percent of Zimbabweans do not want Zanu PF.
“That is why we have a lot of opposition parties that have not joined Polad (the Political Actors Dialogue).
“Unite all the opposition parties in this country and in doing so you will be uniting all Zimbabweans,” Mandaza said.
When Tsvangirai died, a vicious power struggle erupted in the MDC, which saw Chamisa assuming the reins of the country’s main opposition party ahead of his rivals — albeit, under controversial circumstances.
Chamisa was accused of having allegedly used under-handed methods to torpedo the ambitions of the likes of the MDC’s then vice presidents Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe.
A titanic leadership battle subsequently ensued, which eventually led to Khupe forming a breakaway faction — which went on to perform dismally in the 2018 elections.
Chamisa ultimately prevailed over his party competitors after a consultative meeting of the MDC which was held at its Harare headquarters — and which was attended by 639 delegates from 210 party districts — endorsed him as Tsvangirai’s interim successor and the party’s presidential candidate in the 2018 polls.
However, dark clouds are still hanging over his continued leadership of the party, after the High Court later nullified his presidency, in the run-up to last year’s chaotic congress in Gweru.
The ruling followed a court application by MDC member Elias Mashavira, who challenged Chamisa’s ascendancy to the party’s leadership, which he said had happened in violation of its constitution.
In her ruling, Justice Edith Mushore also nullified Chamisa and Mudzuri’s appointments as MDC vice presidents by Tsvangirai.
Chamisa has since appealed against the High Court decision, with the Supreme Court yet to give its verdict on the matter.