By Felex Share
Divisions rocking MDC-Alliance played out in the open yesterday when allies of party leader Mr Nelson Chamisa confronted vice president Senator Elias Mudzuri, scolding him in public for having attended a parliamentary function at State House.
Sen Mudzuri is said to be angling to challenge Mr Chamisa for the presidency at the party’s congress set for next year, reviving his earlier shots at the position which was pronounced when former party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was on his deathbed.
Sen Mudzuri is the leader of the opposition in the Senate and a member of the Parliamentary Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC).
The meeting at State House sought to fulfil parliamentary procedures which require that National Assembly and Senate presiding officers present themselves to the President on assuming their duties.
Sen Mudzuri was properly at the meeting with President Mnangagwa, considering that the positions he holds in Parliament qualify him as a presiding officer.
Other opposition officials, Ms Tabitha Khumalo (leader of opposition in the National Assembly) and Mr Prosper Mutseyami (Chief Whip) boycotted the presentation ceremony.
Immediately after attending the meeting, Sen Mudzuri — who has been entangled in factional fights with Mr Chamisa — was confronted by his president’s allies who sought answers on why he was at State House.
In a video that went viral yesterday, MDC-Alliance National Assembly members Messrs Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana East) and Murisi Zwizwai (Harare Central) led a few opposition legislators who angrily confronted Sen Mudzuri at a city hotel and shouted at him.
Surprisingly, the legislators were at the hotel on parliamentary business, taking part in post-budget consultations.
“Iko zvino vanhu vakadzingwa nemapurisa nenyaya yaMnangagwa,” Mr Zwizwai is heard saying in reference to MDC-Alliance legislators who were ejected from Parliament last week for rowdy behaviour.
Mr Hwende weighed in: “One munhu weMDC, vana chief whip vese havana kuenda. Hana yenyu yanga isingarove muri one kuState House kwacho?”
Opposition legislators last week refused to acknowledge President Mnangagwa when he entered the National Assembly chamber last week for the National Budget presentation, leading to their ejection from the house for disregarding parliamentary protocol.
Mr Hwende chairs the parliamentary portfolio committee on ICT, and observers said he should be well-versed with parliamentary business because of that post.
In an interview with The Herald, Sen Mudzuri said he attended the event to fulfil his parliamentary duties.
He accused Mr Zwizwai and company of making “theatrical accusations.”
“It’s just being disrespectful of a senior person,” said Sen Mudzuri. “I went on my responsibility as a member of the SROC and we have been attending SROC meetings in Bulawayo where we agreed that we should have a selected number of people who engage the President regularly.
“How do we work? Budget has to be passed by the same person (President Mnangagwa) and the person doing the budget is also appointed by the President. Hondo yacho inopera kupi?”
He went on: “They are being childish because I can’t be attacked in public by juniors. If there is anything to worry about, they should ask the president to talk to me unless they are having private meetings. I can assure you that anyone who reasons will not find their argument in order.
“I want a situation where we take parliamentary business seriously. In any case, I was happy the President indicated that we have to look at electoral laws and the next election date is announced by the same person you don’t want to engage.”
By late yesterday, those fighting in Mr Chamisa’s corner were calling for the expulsion of Sen Mudzuri from the party.
Sen Mudzuri and Mr Douglas Mwonzora are being accused of positioning themselves to challenge Mr Chamisa for the presidency at the party’s congress due early next year.