Tempers rose during an MDC Alliance rally at Chisamba Grounds in Mutare over the weekend when the party’s supporters heckled secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora resulting in president Nelson Chamisa threatening to walk out of the gathering unless Mwonzora was allowed to speak.
This was after supporters sympathetic to the youthful leader heckled and booed Mwonzora as he took to the podium to address the rally.
Mwonzora has thrown his name in the hat and will be challenging Chamisa’s MDC Alliance presidency at the party’s crucial congress in May.
It was, however, clear from the onset of the rally that Mwonzora could have a torrid time as almost all high ranking MDC Alliance leaders who spoke seemed to accuse him of being Zanu PF by challenging Chamisa.
Dangamvura-Chikanga MP and MDC chief whip Prosper Mutseyami had set the tone of the rally by declaring that a caucus by all sitting MPs and senators backed Chamisa’s presidency beyond congress. Organising secretary Amos Chibaya who was directing proceedings also hammered home on the need for the party to maintain its momentum by retaining their young leader declaring that any thoughts of changing their leader was a Zanu PF agenda.
Youth Assembly leader Happison “General Bvondo” Chidziwa pronounced his position saying as young people they would support one of their own for the party’s presidency.
Lynette Karenyi-Kore, the women’s assembly leader also rose to add her voice to the endorsement of Chamisa’s continued leadership of the party beyond congress before it was Mwonzora’s turn to take to the podium.
Not to be outdone, Tendai Biti would also go on to declare that there was no need to change commanders in the middle of a war.
So by the time Mwonzora came to the podium, all anger was focused on him as he rose to deafening booing forcing Chamisa to rush to the stage and threatening to return without addressing the rally if they would not allow the party secretary-general to address them.
Chamisa told the rally he understood emotions were running high due to the impending congress but bemoaned what he termed Zanu PF culture in which it is a taboo for the presidency to be openly challenged.
“MDC people follow MDC culture… our secretary-general shall speak after that we will proceed with our programme otherwise; I’ll not address the rally myself,” Chamisa said before chiding a group of supporters who were already raising placards denouncing Mwonzora.
“Put down the placards, this is not the time,” he said.
“I know its congress time… I know you’re used to Zanu PF culture that says the leader should not be contested. I’ve heard what you said that you don’t change a commander during war but we want people to determine their leaders. I’ll have to allow those who want to contest to do so… He who contests me is the one who strengthens me,” Chamisa said.
He said he knew that when the party openly shows division it would be because of positions.
“I know that if it’s like this in Manicaland there will be positions being sought,” the MDC leader said.
Mwonzora on his part went on to deliver a speech in which he applauded the province’s exploits in the past election before declaring his vision for a united party.
“I want this MDC to be a united party, I want this MDC to be a party that chooses, I want this MDC to be a tolerant and democratic party. I want this MDC as secretary-general to be a disciplined party,” Mwonzora said in an emotional delivery. — DailyNews