By Tinashe Kairiza
Government is orchestrating a well-choreographed plan using the state security apparatus to infiltrate MDC structures, as well as foment violence and chaos in the run up to, during and after the party’s elective congress in May to dent opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s credibility and legitimacy, while weakening his leadership and party, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
The plan, state security contacts said, includes bankrolling the campaign of candidates willing to take on Chamisa. He is likely to face the challenge of long-time rival Douglas Mwonzora, who beat him to the position of secretary-general in 2014. Sources within the intelligence community this week told the Independent that part of the strategy involves infiltrating and weakening the structures of the MDC, besmirching Chamisa through state-controlled media, while propping up his rivals, as well as fomenting mayhem during the party’s congress.
The ultimate objective of the plan — for which a hefty war chest has been set aside — is to have a weak MDC post congress with limited bargaining power in the event that talks between the party and the ruling Zanu PF materialise, sources said. Chamisa, who lost last year’s presidential election, has refused to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the winner, insisting he rigged the polls. He says only dialogue will resolve the impasse, seen as key towards setting Zimbabwe’s creaking economy on a firm recovery and growth path.
“Chamisa has been a problem for President Mnangagwa both at home and internationally. He has continued to question Mnangagwa’s legitimacy so the best way for Zanu PF is for him to have legitimacy and credibility problems of his own,” an official said.
“Chamisa will address any lingering legitimacy questions of his own if he is elected at congress. But the plan is to make sure that his image and credibility are damaged during the congress period, through sponsoring divisions, confusion and violence in the MDC. The idea is that the MDC should emerge weaker after congress. Chamisa should emerge with his reputation in tatters. There must be legitimacy questions if he sails through so that he ceases to have the moral authority to question Mnangagwa’s own legitimacy. His bargaining power will be reduced in any negotiations if the plan succeeds.”
The elective congress will be the first since the death of Tsvangirai last February, hence critical.
At the time of going to print, Mwonzora had not responded to questions sent to him. Sources said the plan to disrupt the opposition congress would also be pivoted around fanning divisions within the MDC during the restructuring exercise of the party’s structures.
“Success of the project to throw the MDC congress into disarray is also predicated on fomenting violence and chaos before the party’s branches, wards, districts and provincial structures are reorganised in line with the party’s dictates before congress. “Another dimension the strategy will take is that Zanu PF, utilising state machinery, will also be on the lookout for candidates who are not in Chamisa’s camp so that they can be sponsored if they decide to run for any position of their choice,” the source said.
According to the MDC constitution, a candidate should be nominated by at least one of the party’s provinces to be eligible to contest at congress.