MDC-T legislator Nelson Chamisa has rubbished claims by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai that there was a plot to unseat him, as the opposition party faces fresh fissures that threaten to tear it apart for the umpteenth time.
Tsvangirai last week told party supporters in Chitungwiza that some unnamed senior leaders were agitating for a fresh congress, exactly 12 months after the last one with a view to toppling him from power.
But Chamisa said that was not true. Addressing an MDC-T rally in Kuwadzana East constituency, Harare, on Sunday, Chamisa, who is said to be the chief agitator, said instead of looking for conspiracy theories, leaders should be focused on strengthening the party.
“We have been reading in the newspapers that Chamisa and others want to form a party; that I want to remove the leadership by calling for another congress,” he shot back.
“We cannot be perpetually thinking about congresses, people must forget about that and work towards strengthening the party in readiness to take power.”
Informed MDC-T sources said Tsvangirai had last week summoned youths, supposedly loyal to Chamisa, and admonished them for their alleged divisive behaviour.
The youths were said to have openly chanted “cobra” in reference to Chamisa at the burial of Harare deputy mayor Thomas Muzuva in Hwedza two weeks ago.
Tsvangirai and Chamisa have openly disagreed on forming a coalition with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First project, an idea the MDC-T leader has evidently warmed up to.
But at the weekend rally, former Energy minister Elias Mudzuri and youth leader Happymore Chidziva took turns to blast the proposed coalition.
Chamisa, who, according to reports, has accused Tsvangirai of masterminding his loss at last year’s congress, said any attempts to oust the MDC-T leader would be futile.
“Even if we realise that Tsvangirai is finding it difficult to lead, we must help him rather than seek to take the throne away from him,” Chamisa said.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political analyst Eldred Masunungure said while Tsvangirai seems to be in charge for now, indications were “the glue that holds the party is weakening”.
“The continuing friction might be an indication that the elite consensus, the cohesion that has become the hallmark of the MDC-T, is weakening,” he said.
“The subordinates are openly defying the leader, meaning he might be losing his grip. It suggests an insipid fragmentation of the party, the centre might be loosening.”
Academic and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza concurred: “Such utterances show clear divisions. It is a counter-position to what Tsvangirai has enunciated and does not bode well for unity within the MDC-T.”
The MDC-T has been rocked by endless internal fights since Tsvangirai’s electoral defeat by Mugabe in 2013.
The fights have led to the departure of former deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and secretary-general Tendai Biti to form their own parties — Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe and People’s Democratic Party, respectively.
In 2005, Tsvangirai had a nasty fall-out with his other secretary-general Welshman Ncube, now leader of the MDC.