The sources told The Zimbabwean that Tsvangirai was growing increasingly disillusioned with Chamisa, whom he blamed for growing factionalism in the party. Mwonzora went on to beat Chamisa for the post at MDC-T’s November congress – a result that surprised many.
Chamisa, the outgoing organising secretary, looked set to bag the post after easily being nominated by the party senior membership, while Mwonzora struggled to get enough nominations.
“From early last year when the party restructured in preparation for general elections (held on July 31), the president (Tsvangirai) kept getting reports that Chamisa was causing chaos in the provinces because of the manner in which he handled matters.
“He was stuffing the structures with his own people and this was causing discontent and, in many cases, violence. Tsvangirai talked to Chamisa about it but there was no change,” said one of the sources.
The insiders said Tsvangirai was also informed that Chamisa had grown “too ambitious” and was already preparing to take over from Tsvangirai once his current term was over.
“He is partly blaming Chamisa for the party’s loss to Zanu (PF) in last year’s elections because there was a lot of Bhora Musango (electoral sabotage) as a lot of party cadres were disgruntled by the way he manipulated the posts,” added another insider.
In Chitungwiza and the Midlands provinces, he said, Chamisa sided with factions that were notorious for violence and caused the arrests of internal foes. The sources accused Chamisa of being part of the group which wanted to remove Tsvangirai and bring about leadership renewal. The group early this year broke away and is now led by Tendai Biti, the former secretary general.
“Chamisa was part of the group for strategic reasons. He withdrew at the last minute hoping that, with Biti gone, he would easily claim the secretary general’s position. That is what Biti did when Welshman Ncube led a splinter in 2005,” he told The Zimbabwean.
Chamisa used to be a trusted lieutenant, especially after Ncube broke away. But growing disillusionment ahead of congress resulted in Mwonzora’s ascendancy as he was considered to be more mature.
Chamisa dismissed the claims as “trivial, sterile and bizarre gossip”. “It is self-evident that the so-called insiders have an agenda of their own that they want me to legitimise by responding to their baseless claims. They are just trying to provoke me into saying something so that they can use it against me,” he said.
“Many blatant things were done to manipulate the (congress) elections,” he said, charging that the very delegates who oversaw election preparations went on to vote, thereby compromising integrity and accountability.
Chamisa recently graduated with a first class degree in laws from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and has since been approved as an advocate. Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, could not be reached for a comment.