BY KENNETH NYANGANI
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday said he does not want to lead a divided party as he moved to heal the rift threatening to tear apart the country’s leading opposition party ahead of its crucial congress in May.
Chamisa is angling to take the party’s top position on a permanent basis after taking over from the late Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February last year.
The announcement of the congress dates a fortnight ago has exposed serious fault lines in the party especially after indications that secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora could be entertaining ideas of challenging Chamisa.
However, Chamisa struck a conciliatory tone at a well-attended rally in Mutare, where he said there was no need to fight for positions.
Mwonzora, who was initially booed by the crowd, said he was only interested in seeing a united MDC Alliance.
“Let us not use the congress to fight for positions, but we should use it to strategise and have tactics to topple Zanu PF,” Chamisa said.
“I don’t want to be a leader of a radical party, please leave the culture of Zanu PF.
“I am aware that Zanu PF wants us to be divided, but an idea of God cannot be destroyed by a man’s idea.
“We are going to have an independent electoral committee during the congress as we want to show Zanu PF how it is done.”
Earlier, Chamisa had to reprimand party supporters who booed Mwonzora, saying such behaviour could not be tolerated in the MDC Alliance.
Chamisa took to the podium threatening to withdraw from the rally if the crowd continued booing the top officials.
“Please stop that, we need a party that respects its leaders and if you continue to do that, I am going to withdraw from the rally,” he said.
After he was allowed to take to the podium, Mwonzora urged MDC Alliance supporters to be tolerant and choose leaders of their own choice.
“I want the MDC party to be tolerant and be a democratic and disciplined party and choose its own leader,” he said.
“I am saying that there are people who want to divide us, but they are not going to achieve their goals.”
Manicaland provincial chairman David Chimhini, who is said to be part of Mwonzora’s faction, was also booed.
Chimhini only managed to address the rally after the intervention of organising secretary Amos Chibaya. He said the people who booed him had been organised.
The MDC Alliance claims Zanu PF has set aside a $6 million purse to sponsor some of its officials to ensure that Chamisa does not win at the congress.
However, Zanu PF has dismissed the claims saying it is not interested in the opposition’s internal politics.
Chamisa was the MDC Alliance candidate in last year’s presidential elections and has refused to concede defeat to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, saying the election was rigged.