THE opposition MDC party has always commanded public attention since it burst onto the scene two decades ago. Led by Morgan Tsvangirai, who given his labour background and humble persona, gave the impression of being an everyday Joe, who understood the struggles people faced every day.
He contrasted sharply with the urbane Robert Mugabe, who had held unchecked power since independence in 1980, and his Zanu PF party which had become elitist, greedy, corrupt and were driving the country into a ravine that it is still struggling to disentangle itself from.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai have passed on, but for two decades, the MDC has provided the biggest challenge to Zanu PF’s hegemony and stood as an alternative to the den of thieves Zanu PF has become. It became the biggest political brand outside of Zanu PF and guaranteed anyone associated with it hero status in the eyes of a public being dragged through the mire of mismanagement by the ruling party.
As a result, the happenings in the party are of keen interest to both Zanu PF and power-hungry individuals within its ranks. For Zanu PF, control of the narrative in the opposition ranks was paramount, and it appears mission accomplished given the recent developments.
That the army and police even assisted the Thokozani Khupe faction in taking over the MDC Alliance headquarters, the Morgan Tsvangirai House doesn’t surprise. According to former adviser to the President, Chris Mutsvangwa, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi “was helping them” to return to constitutionality — read get rid of the hated Nelson Chamisa and replace him with a more malleable individual.
Now that they have the controls, the fight for control of the Khupe-led MDC-T faction has taken another turn. There has been talk, albeit in hushed tones, of a divided cockpit, with Douglas Mwonzora reportedly at the centre of it.
The fight emanates from a power struggle where followers of Khupe believe the acting secretary-general is undermining the authority of the acting president because he has ambitions to take over as top dog himself.
Consequently, the Khupe camp is now stopping at nothing to block the July 31 extraordinary congress, while the other camp is determined to press on and have their new emperor in charge.
This is the fight that is playing up in the MDC-T now and observers of opposition activists feel it would fragment the opposition further. The belief is that the happenings in the opposition camps reflect an insatiable appetite for power by some individuals at the expense of the agenda of the greater movement.
After a protracted fight in the MDC Alliance, where he is treated with suspicion that he was working against Chamisa, (which later turned out to be true), Mwonzora now sees himself in a similar position, this time against Khupe.
Maybe there’s need to make a distinction — is the Khupe faction the one Tsvangirai left or it’s the Chamisa-led MDC Alliance which was his brainchild and probably remains his deathbed wish. We think the voters were enlightened enough to make the needed distinction at the 2018 polls.
What is happening in the MDC-T raises more questions with little or no answers. What happened to the people’s movement? Who is in charge of the party now? Whose interest are the leaders serving? Is the house that Tsvangirai built crumbling?