BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE fight over the MDC-T party’s voters roll to be used this Sunday at their extraordinary congress escalated yesterday after supporters of secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora staged a demonstration at the party headquarters in an attempt to discredit the one favoured by the party interim leader Thokozani Khupe.
Mwonzora’s supporters claimed that Khupe’s preferred voters roll, which is based on the 2014 MDC-T structures, which was adopted by the party, was not bona fide and was used by the MDC Alliance at their elective congress last year in Gweru.
Khupe and Mwonzora have repeatedly clashed over the voters roll.
Both are eying the MDC-T presidency in a bid to succeed the late founder and party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who succumbed to cancer of the colon in February 2018.
Other contenders for the party presidency include acting chairperson Morgen Komichi and his deputy Elias Mudzuri.
Former Nkayi South legislator Abednico Bhebhe, who was recently expelled from the MDC-T on charges that he is an MDC Alliance lackey, charges which he denies, is also eying the presidency.
The haggling within the party, including accusations against Mwonzora that he allegedly tried to sneak in a “doctored” voters roll, ended up prompting Khupe to postpone the congress which was scheduled for last weekend to this Sunday.
Mwonzora had also been accused of manipulating the voters roll to accommodate his backers.
A party insider, who refused to be named, told NewsDay that Mwonzora’s backers staged a mini demonstration.
“They mobilised and came to Richard Morgan Tsvangirai House, where a meeting of principals that are contesting the presidency was scheduled to begin. They were baying for Komichi’s blood, accusing him of trying to rig the party elections by using MDC Alliance 2019 structures which the party used for its botched Gweru congress,” the party insider said.
“The principals had to abort the meeting and opted to go and proceed with the meeting at Mudzuri’s House where the previous national council meeting was held last week.”
On Tuesday, Khupe and the other contestants were again forced to abort a meeting at the Richard Morgan Tsvangirai House and had to do it at Mudzuri’s house after Mwonzora’s backers staged a mini demonstration targeting Komichi, and accusing him of using the MDC Alliance voters roll.
The principals were locked up in the meeting until late into the night.
Komichi was assigned by the party last week to lead the verification of the voters roll.
The protesters were reportedly being led by Chitungwiza district chairperson Llyod Damba, Mashonaland East chairperson Piniel Denga and Hatfield treasurer Simon Hove.
To confirm the fight, there is a letter circulating on the party’s WhatsApp platform, which was written by Damba, who is reportedly at the forefront of manipulating the voters roll on behalf of Mwonzora.
A letter leaked to NewsDay purportedly written by Damba, who is said to be a Team Dougie member, said the use of the MDC Alliance structures was an affront to the democratic tenets of the MDC-T according to the party constitution.
“Today, I was called by (Hon) Gift Chimanikire the deputy organising secretary. He also invited (Hon) Gandi Mudzingwa, the secretary for elections, to the round table as well as the Hon Giles Mutsekwa, the secretary for security. He informed me that data from almost seven districts was missing as well as the provincial main executive board,” the letter read.
“I took with me all district chairpersons of Chitungwiza province. Before we submitted the list to him, we had an opportunity to look at the structures that they said were the authentic ones. The structures they allege are Chitungwiza structures of 2014 are in fact 2019 MDC Alliance structures that went to the ill-fated Gweru congress.”
Damba said a number of party supporters, who were in the 2014 structures, had been purged and were not going to participate in the congress slated for the weekend.
“Even the most vocal persons on this platform are not on that structure we saw, meaning this is going to be a purely Alliance extraordinary congress which has nothing to do with the MDC T, the Supreme Court judgment and our party constitution, as well as two resolutions of the national council which barred those that had formed another political party or have joined another political party. It makes no sense for candidates who have chosen to be elected by the MDC Alliance people to come back and lead you,” the letter said.
Without mentioning names, Damba accused some of the senior party members for clandestinely meeting with MDC Alliance officials, whom he said were setting the stage for chaos and violence and for loyal cadres to be violated and harassed.
However, party spokersperon, Tapiwa Mashakada refuted the allegations.
He told NewsDay that the voters roll was still being sorted out and yet to be finalised.
“Right now, they are cleaning up the voters roll. The process should be finished today (yesterday),” he said.
Khupe and Mwonzora are touted as the front runners ahead of the elections set to be held on Sunday.