BY BLESSED MHLANGA
TENSION continues to rise in the MDC ahead of its elective congress with secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora saying party president Nelson Chamisa failed to meet a target of attracting 4,5 million votes in the July 30 general elections.
His fiery comments come after some party bigwigs loyal to Chamisa led by deputy president Morgen Komichi, said the youthful leader has already been endorsed to lead the party in the 2023 general elections because structures feel it was unwise to change a leader in the middle of the battle.
Yesterday, Mwonzora said although Chamisa had a good show in last year’s elections, he fell short of the 4,5 million votes targeted by the party and that his impressive showing does not mean he could not be challenged.
“The MDC targeted 4,5 million votes, that was what was in our strategic plan, we did not achieve that, we did a very handsome score, but maybe those who are going to challenge him (Chamisa), if I get to challenge him, I have to prove that I can score more, that I can score better and I have my own opinions about myself and that is a question for another day,” he said on Sunday.
According to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) figures, Chamisa pulled 2 147 436 votes or 44,3% of the total, but lost out to President Emmerson Mnangagwa who polled 2 460 463 or 50,6% of the votes.
Going by Mwonzora’s logic, Chamisa should have won 94% of the votes to meet the target the party had set. The consolidated voters’ roll for the 2018 harmonised elections contained more than 5,6 million registered voters, but only 4 775 568 cast their votes.
In the parliamentary elections, the MDC Alliance won 1 624 875 or 34,33% of the votes compared to Zanu PF’s 2 477 708 or 52,35% of the votes. A total of 4 732 851 votes were cast.
“The fact that in this election we won so many votes, its attributed to many factors; the brand of the party itself, the candidate and so on. I have heard people say that people must not contest because the president scored so many votes. Well my answer to that is that’s not the basis under the constitution why a contest cannot be done,” Mwonzora said.
“A person who is contesting is in fact holding himself or herself to be saying that they can score more and there is no reason to underestimate them because you have never seen them in a presidential election. So how do we judge them that they cannot score more than that, or score like what Advocate Chamisa scored?
But it’s not to undervalue what he did. He performed very well as a candidate in that election even in spite of what the Zec went on to do. This is what the challengers have to convince people that they will get 4,5 million votes,” he said.
If Chamisa falls at the elective congress, this will likely end the standoff with Zanu PF over allegations that the presidential election was stolen and resolve the question of Mnangagwa’s legitimacy, paving way for MDC talks with Zanu PF, according to insiders backing Mwonzora.
Chamisa has accused Mnangagwa and Zec of electoral theft and has spurned dialogue with Mnangagwa unless the talks address the question of legitimacy.
Mwonzora himself said he would want to end the standoff between the MDC and Mnangagwa because he saw the continued standoff as unhealthy.
“Stand-offs are not a good thing, we are hoping that we will be involved in dialogue one way or the other,” he said.
However, Chamisa’s backers have accused Mwonzora of contributing to the failure by the party to meet its electoral target by sleeping on duty and failing to field presiding officers in last year’s elections.
“He would be lying if he says he did anything to mobilise for the July 30 elections. As we speak, the party does not even own a wheelbarrow, yet he is the head of administration. He talks of the 4,5 million votes — how did he want them to be gathered when he did nothing to make us get those votes?” a source said.
Chamisa refused to comment on the matter, saying he will respect party structures and processes.
“We currently don’t have any candidates for any position, people are nominated by provinces and I cannot even speak of me contesting for the presidency before I am nominated, I go into congress were I hang the jacket I am wearing and if I would have been nominated by then I will contest,” he said.