BY RICHARD MUPONDE
A shock defection by a senior official has triggered soul searching in the MDC Alliance amid claims that some of the party’s problems are self-inflicted.
MDC Alliance deputy treasurer general Lillian Timveos was last week paraded by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House after she defected to the ruling Zanu PF.
Timveos said it had dawned on her that opposition politics had nothing to offer in Zimbabwe and praised Zanu PF’s “progressive policies”.
She was joined at State House by former MDC-T secretary for local government Blessing Chebundo, who also joined Zanu PF.
The defection triggered an angry exchange between the former MDC Alliance senator for Midlands and the party’s secretary-general Charlton Hwende.
Hwende accused Timveos of moving to Zanu PF for financial gain.
The politician did not take it kindly and accused the former student leader of misleading MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and being behind an alleged plot to push senior leaders of the opposition party.
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MDC Alliance insiders said some of the allegations raised by Timveos against Hwende were partly true and warned that Chamisa could preside over the death of the party if he does not take the defection seriously.
They said a clique led by Hwende and comprising MDC Alliance organising secretary Amos Chibaya, deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo, youth leader Obey Sithole, deputy secretary-general Happymore Chidziva and Harare Central MP Murisi Zvizwai was behind a push to frustrate senior MDC Alliance officials in the hope that they leave the party.
The party officials said the clique, which is close to Chamisa, was targeting deputy national chairman Job Sikhala, vice-president Tendai Biti, treasurer general David Holtart and national chairperson Thabita Khumalo.
“It is true Hwende has been harassing other members in the standing committee meetings, including removing them from party Whatsapp groups,” a top official said.
“But president Chamisa has done nothing to rein them in.
“There is a general feeling that he is the one sending Hwende to target other leaders.
“It is surprising that the party can afford to have internal wars at a time it is facing a fierce war from Zanu PF and MDC-T.”
The official added: “At one time, Ruth Labode was harassed for suggesting that there was need to come up with a new name for the party.
“Hwende told her to leave that issue to the president.”
Another official said MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora’s decision to part ways with Chamisa could have been influenced by the clique.
“Even Mwonzora before he left, each time whether he said something or not, he was always attacked.
“The group would sing a song, pano paita mutengesi (a sellout is here),” said the official.
“He was a strong man and I don’t know how he managed to be in the party for a year after the Gweru congress where he lost to Hwende.
“At times he needed escort to go out of Harvest House.
“He was actually hounded out by Hwende and company and I am sure the president was part of the plot because it now appears he no longer wants the old guard in the party.”
Sikhala refused to respond to allegations that he was being targeted by Hwende’s group.
He said he was removed from the MDC Alliance WhatsApp groups for security reasons while he was in prison.
“I was in prison and for security reasons, in case the state security agents took my phone, they had to remove me,” Sikhala said.
Khumalo, who was also removed from some MDC Alliance groups, refused to comment yesterday, referring questions to party spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere.
Chamisa also referred questions about the alleged problems dogging the country’s main opposition party to Mahere, who was unreachable yesterday.
Hlatywayo said the allegations that there was a clique plotting the ouster of the party’s old guard were false.
“Those are lies of the century to give an excuse for joining Zanu PF. Let’s just wait, time will tell,” he told The Standard.
“Political parties are voluntary organisations, you come and you go at your own volition.
“In our organs from branch to national level, there is debate. Each and every issue is subjected to constructive debate.”