MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora says he will decide in the next few days if there is still any merit in fighting to retain his current position at the party’s congress scheduled for May 24 to 26, the Daily News can report.
Mwonzora brew a shocker over the weekend when he informed party supporters in Mutare about his decision to pull out of the presidential race to focus on retaining the secretary-general’s position.
He claimed to have struck an agreement with party leader, Nelson Chamisa, whom he had hoped to challenge for the position of president.
But speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Mwonzora said he will only contest for the secretary-general’s position after assessing conditions on the ground. “My initial inclination was to contest for the position of secretary-general, since I had been nominated by some people for that post. I may consider not to contest, depending on the circumstances,” he said.
Mwonzora said he has written to the Independent Electoral Commission, raising certain irregularities, which he said militated against a free and fair process. “There are a number of issues that I have raised with the Independent Electoral Commission in writing regarding certain misgivings I had about the process,” he said.
“Unfortunately, these were not attended to and at the same time, the process of the nomination was proceeding. For that reason, I felt I could not continue being in the presidential race,” added Mwonzora.
The former Nyanga North Member of Parliament is now battling for his political life after his home province of Manicaland did not nominate him for any position.
Instead, the province – now led by party chief whip Prosper Mutseyami – nominated Chamisa as president while Morgen Komichi, Lilian Timveos and Welshman Ncube were all nominated to deputise the MDC leader.
For the position of secretary-general that Mwonzora now wants to focus on following his nomination by Matabeleland South province, Manicaland province opted for Chamisa’s ally, Chalton Hwende.
“It all went on well and the people of the province made their democratic choices so now we are heading for Masvingo province today (yesterday) before we do Harare tomorrow (today),” MDC organising secretary Amos Chibaya told the Daily News yesterday.
For the position of national chairperson, the province nominated Thabitha Khumalo whom they want deputised by Happymore Chidziva. Former party secretary-general Tendai Biti was nominated for the position of treasurer-general while Chibaya got his eighth nomination to retain his position with Paul Madzore as his deputy.
Should he decide to contest the secretary-general’s post, Mwonzora will have to fight off Hwende who has been nominated by almost all provinces and Daniel Molekeli who was nominated by Matabeleland North province for the same position.
At the 2014 congress, Mwonzora surprised all and sundry when he defeated Chamisa for the position of secretary-general, getting 2 464 votes against his rival’s 1 756. This subsequently left Chamisa as an ordinary card-carrying member, before he was rescued by MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai who appointed him to the MDC national executive as secretary for policy and research.
The MDC will hold its first elective congress in Gweru next month, the first since the death of Tsvangirai in February last year following a battle with cancer of the colon. There are concerted efforts by certain members of the country’s biggest opposition party to abort the highly-anticipated elective congress.
Already, two applications have been filed before the High Court seeking to stop the elective congress, by party members who argue that in terms of the party constitution, an extra-ordinary congress should instead have been held exactly a year after Tsvangirai’s death.
The High Court is still to make a determination in both cases.
As the nomination process continues, allegations of intimidation, nepotism, candidate imposition and violence in some parts of the country, have been raised.
Chamisa has so far bagged eight nominations for the president position, while Mwonzora has not managed to secure a single nomination to contest the presidency. South Africa, United Kingdom, Harare and Bulawayo are still to make their nominations while Masvingo was scheduled to conduct its nominations yesterday.
The nomination process is set to move to Harare today.