BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE defection of top party executive, Lillian Timveos from the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance to the ruling Zanu PF has opened a can of worms, with party insiders claiming the young opposition leader’s failure to rein in his “toxic and divisive” secretary-general Chalton Hwende had destroyed the party.
Timveos, the opposition party’s former deputy treasurer-general and Midlands senator, officially joined Zanu PF together with MDC-T secretary for local government, Blessing Chebundo on Wednesday, where they were paraded before President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga.
More party officials are reportedly warming up to join Zanu PF, which has since the 2018 general elections, been accused of spending millions of dollars as well as abusing State institutions to destroy the opposition party, allegation it denies.
But tensions are reportedly high in Chamisa’s backyard, with party executives said to be unhappy with Hwende’s closeness to Chamisa.
Hwende, a top party official claimed, was influencing Chamisa to fight his lieutenants such as vice-president Tendai Biti and deputy chairperson Job Sikhala, among others.
This, according to the official, is giving an impression that Hwende is calling the shots in the cockpit and “most members are ready to leave.”
Hwende, after Timveos defected to Zanu PF, took to Twitter and claimed that the former senator had sealed a deal with First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa to enable her retain her senatorial vehicle if she joined the ruling party.
This triggered an outburst from Timveos, who described Hwende as an “evil person” who was behind corruption in the MDC Alliance and the purging of party executives.
She said Hwende was the reason why she left the party to join Zanu PF because of his vitriol against other senior party members, especially those in the standing committee.
“Hwende may fool people who do not know him, but not me and all members in the standing committee and Members of Parliament who know that he is the one who destroyed that party single-handedly. He’s the reason why I made the decision I made,” she said.
She said she was a businesswoman owning several shops in Zvishavane and other properties all over the country and could not dump the party because of a parliamentary car “since I started driving different sort of cars for decades.”
She alleged abuse of funds handed to the party under the Political Parties Finance Act before the money was rerouted to then MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe last year.
Timveos alleged Hwende treated other members like David Coltart with disdain and alleged that Chamisa had remained mum about the abuse of party members.
“Hwende knows that he fights everyone in the party,” Timveos said.
“I was one of the major financiers of the party for many years and the Midlands province stood for many years because of my financial donations to the party. We have been treated like schoolchildren, insulted by Hwende and Nelson Chamisa never reprimanded him. How many standing committee members cried in meetings (because of) abuse at every turn?”
She added that Hwende always ganged up with the organising secretary Amos Chibaya, deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo, youth leader Obey Sithole, Murisi Zwizwai and former legislator Happymore Chidziva to undress other members of the standing committee.
Timveos said Hwende once lobbied them to fight co-vice-president Welshman Ncube, whom he accused of having secretly opened a bank account in South Africa together with Coltart to revive his MDC-N offshoot which he formed in 2005 after parting ways with MDC founding leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
Hwende also allegedly lobbied for Sikhala to be expelled from the party, she added.
Hwende did not respond to questions sent to him, but Hlatywayo denied that the party’s secretary-general was calling the shots in the MDC Alliance.
He denied abuse of party members during standing committee meetings, accusing those making the allegations of being sponsored by Zanu PF.
“Those are lies. We knew long ago that some leaders like (MDC-T leader Douglas) Mwonzora behaved like owners of the movement. Were they questioned? The MDC Alliance has space for difference of opinion and you are not killed,” Hlatywayo said.
He denied that the MDC Alliance was in turmoil, claiming it was a tried and tested party that could not be destroyed easily.
“MDC Alliance is a tried and tested people’s party. Since the defeat of Mnangagwa by president Chamisa in 2018, Zanu PF has not slept trying to destroy the party both from within and outside. Zanu PF imagines that there is turmoil in the MDC Alliance,” he said.