MUTARE – The relationship between former Prime Minister and MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and party organising- secretary, Nelson Chamisa reportedly ‘broke down’ at the weekend after a finger-pointing incident in Mutare.
Chamisa, according to highly-placed sources, was irked by Tsvangirai’s move to directly get involved in the provincial congress in Manicaland at which information czar Douglas Mwonzora was overwhelmingly nominated for the coveted position of secretary-general.
“So angry was Chamisa that he pointed his finger at Tsvangirai and told him to take charge of the process if he so wished. While Tsvangirai remained composed and later asked for the candidates to introduce themselves, Chamisa remained seated refusing to do as directed,” said a top party source. “However, when Tsvangirai moved out of the hall, Chamisa grabbed the microphone from one of the leaders of the youth group conducting the process before introducing himself.
Chamisa had emerged as Tsvangirai’s blue-eyed boy since former secretary-general Tendai Biti and ex-deputy treasurer- general, Elton Mangoma rebelled in April and convened a national council meeting that suspended the party leader and six of his acolytes.
Biti’s move effectively sealed the party’s second split inside 10 years, following the acrimonious break-up with Welshman Ncube in October 2005.
The former ICT minister has been riding the crest of a wave in the party nominations process ahead of congress and looked set to take over from Biti.
Mwonzora confirmed his nomination by Manicaland province.
I have been nominated for two positions, one of which is the secretary-general’s and I am going to contest that. You should have been there, he (Chamisa) was defeated. He did not withdraw but the truth is that he was not nominated. People did not vote for him. Remember this is Manicaland,” said a buoyant Mwonzora.
Quizzed about the reported altercation between Tsvangirai and Chamisa, Mwonzora skirted (the subject).
“I am not aware of any altercation between the president and the organising-secretary but, however, what I can say is that there was a group of hooligans who tried to disrupt the process,” Mwonzora said.
Party director of information and Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka also played down the reports of the altercation.
“That is ridiculous, Manicaland was the last province and as such there was so much tension around,’ said Tamborinyoka. “However, there is going to be a national executive meeting at the weekend that will sit and adjudicate on the whole nomination process. Any aggrieved party can approach the national executive and put their complaint forward”.
Commenting on the alleged incident, Chamisa said: “There are naysayers whose wish is to run a smear campaign against the party. Nothing of that sort ever happened. I was a bit late in getting into the meeting because I was dealing with issues of security outside. These people have always known that I have a solid relationship with the leadership of the party and now want to create non-existent schisms. That kind of claim does not qualify for pub-talk.”
The process has also been marred by claims of vote- rigging, vote-buying as well as manipulation, particularly by a group aligned to Mwonzora.
Tsvangirai, for the second time inside two weeks, was forced to take over the running of the process after another contentious internal poll in Bulawayo whose results inspired the defection of three legislators and a host of other structures to the MDC renewal group fronted by Mangoma and Biti.
Chamisa and Mwonzora are locked in a bitter fight for the top post, with the information chief at one time claiming he had been nominated by an external wing of the party. The claim was shot down by Chamisa’s supporter who postulated that the party’s external wings have no right to nominate because they are listed as “branches and not provinces”.
However, Mwonzora had to use his social networking site Facebook wall to explain the proper position declaring that the United States wing had every right to nominate him.