©️ IN A move that underscores both the lack of leadership and senselessness of the turmoil that is consuming the MDC, Nelson Chamisa has barred his once close associates from speaking to the media, the Daily News can reveal.
This comes as more cracks are emerging within the MDC Alliance, a pact of several political parties that is involved in a fierce battle for the control of the country’s main opposition, the MDC — which is currently under the interim leadership of Thokozani Khupe.
It also comes after the MDC Alliance was rocked by the surprise departure this week of veteran politicians and former Cabinet ministers Tapiwa Mashakada and Paurina Mpariwa from the pact, as unbridgeable rifts between Chamisa and some of his top allies become more publicly manifest.
At the same time, the MDC Alliance is also facing serious financial problems, to the extent that it has now gone public begging for urgent assistance from well-wishers.
Now, after weeks of mindless brawling among MDC bigwigs, Chamisa has moved to muzzle some of his most loyal associates — including Alliance vice presidents Tendai Biti and Lynette Karenyi-Kore, as well as firebrand deputy national chairperson Job “Wiwa” Sikhala — barring them from speaking to the media.
Curiously, well-placed MDC sources told the Daily News yesterday, the surprise gag order came after Biti and Sikhala had featured prominently in the independent press last weekend, including the Daily News — and at a time that Chamisa is looking increasingly out of his depth in terms of giving direction to the embattled Alliance.
“Chamisa has gone completely bonkers. How else can anyone explain the sudden gagging of senior members such as Biti and Sikhala?
“At a time that he needs more voices fighting in his corner to expose Zanu PF’s games and machinations in the current chaos, he is doing the opposite, muzzling his allies.
“His friends say he is threatened by these (Alliance) heavyweights and also feels that the media are raising the profiles of his senior officials at his own expense.
“This is ridiculous … It’s rank madness akin to cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face,” a senior MDC Alliance official said.
A close Chamisa ally, Chalton Hwende, confirmed the development saying the gag order was consistent with the MDC Alliance’s constitution.
“Regarding communication, the correct position is that we are coming up with a social media protocol for the party because we cannot regulate individuals’ social media accounts.
“We can only manage the party’s and the constitution is clear that only the president, the secretary-general, his deputy and the spokesperson speak on behalf of the party,” Hwende told the Daily News.
Earlier, Mashakada confirmed that he had indeed left the Alliance’s national standing committee due to worsening divisions — rather than the talk doing the rounds that he had been dismissed.
“I am not aware of the so-called dismissal. In any case how can one be fired from a voluntary organisation?
“All I know is that after I criticised the decision to disengage from Parliament as stupid and unstrategic, the next day 25 MPs defied the directive and attended Parliament.
“In an act of vindictiveness, Chalton Hwende removed me from the national standing committee and national executive internal WhatsApp groups,” Mashakada told the Daily News.
“I am reliably informed that at Tuesday’s national standing committee meeting, Hwende had organised a group of thugs with instructions to assault me should I have gone anywhere near the meeting.
“This readable pattern of violent behaviour is unacceptable in a democratic movement,” he added.
Mashakada went on to savage Chamisa and Hwende for allegedly being “at the forefront of trashing democracy” in the MDC.
“They cannot withstand a robust internal democratic discourse. More so, they can’t manage internal contradictions.
“The MDC Alliance has mishandled and mismanaged the Supreme Court judgment and painted itself as a political outfit which does not respect the institutions of the country, in particular, the judiciary and the security forces.
“They have shown a condescending view. I am a founder member of the MDC and I cannot accept being muzzled,” Mashakada further told the Daily News.
“The MDC Alliance must walk the talk, respect and tolerate diversity and divergence of views.
“In brief, I have elected to disassociate myself from this dictatorship and join forces with my comrades who are committed to protecting, defending, promoting and advancing the legacy of president Tsvangirai,” he said, signalling the end of his ties with the MDC Alliance and his return to the MDC.
On her part, Mpariwa responded to the Daily News by sending through a letter that she had written to the MDC Alliance, bidding them farewell.
“I have noticed my removal from the national standing group. Anyway, it’s a great pleasure taking a back seat after such a long time in the trenches.
“It’s a very difficult period, but it shall come to pass. Best regards to all comrades and a farewell to my women colleagues. It’s sad, but it’s part of life in politics,” she wrote in the letter.
However, Hwende said Tuesday’s meeting did not discuss the Mashakada and Mpariwa issue.
“The standing committee did not discuss any issues regarding the two.
“Mpariwa tendered an apology because she was attending to some other business and the same applies with Mashakada.
“The standing committee has no power to discipline anyone, so no charges are being considered against them because there is no crime that they committed,” Hwende told the Daily News.
All this comes as Khupe and Chamisa have been involved in a fierce tussle for the control of the country’s largest opposition party — a war that began ever since it’s much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, died from colon cancer in February 2018.
The fights took a turn for the worse after the Supreme Court upheld an earlier High Court ruling in March, which had nullified Chamisa’s hotly-disputed ascendancy to the helm of the MDC following Tsvangirai’s death.
The ugly factional wars went a notch up last week after Khupe seized the party’s iconic national headquarters, the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House — allegedly with the assistance of security forces.
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