MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, says he has the capacity to lead the country’s biggest opposition political party if the structures nominate him to contest for that position at the MDC congress to run from May 24 to 26.
It will be the first congress since the death of the MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai who died of colon cancer on February 14, last year.
Tsvangirai’s death saw one of his three deputies, Nelson Chamisa emerge as MDC leader, albeit under controversial circumstances.
Going into the elective congress, Chamisa is touted as the front runner. He faces competition from one of his three deputies, Mwonzora.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Mwonzora threw down the gauntlet, saying he has previously scored more wins than losses — a feat he said makes him more than suitable for any position within the party.
Asked if he has what it takes to be the party’s president, Mwonzora said: “I have been a leader in the MDC at various levels. Having started as the treasurer for Nyanga District, I was elevated to secretary for Local Government for Manicaland Province. In 2008, I was elected to represent Members of Parliament in the national council of the party. In 2011, I was elected as the national spokesman of the party at congress. In 2014, I was elected as the secretary-general of the party. I think I served well in my positions”.
He went on further to give a detailed account of how he joined politics as early as 1989, while he was still a law student.
Mwonzora was instrumental in the formation of the National Constitutional Assembly, which fought for a new democratic people-driven constitution.
He also said among other major roles he was involved in the drafting of the current Constitution.
“I therefore do not think that I lack capacity at all,” Mwonzora said.
Mwonzora is being accused of working with Zanu PF to destroy the MDC from within.
The MDC secretary-general believes that these allegations have not been proven and are only meant to frighten and dissuade him from contesting certain positions.
“Those people who say that I am weak and will not be difficult for Zanu PF don’t seem to notice that I have a history of success against Zanu PF. The electoral reforms, the fight for a new Constitution and the fight against partisan political party funding are just examples. I have been part of every MDC demonstration. I have been arrested and detained on more occasions than most of my peers but I have not given up on my key beliefs.
“Maybe some people think that for one to look strong they must be rude and rough to the opponent. That is wrong. You can be very strong without being uncivil. Mahatma Gandhi was soft spoken but he had an unfathomable inner strength. I believe in planning, strategising and bringing results,” said Mwonzora.
“…I believe that I am a friendly but difficult opponent. Unlike many people I have duelled with Zanu PF in difficult rural constituencies and won both as a member of the National Assembly and as a senator,” Mwonzora said.
As the party’s congress slated from May 24 to 26 draws closer, there has been a lot of mudslinging and jostling within the party, with allegations of intimidation, assaults and imposition of candidates being reported across the country.
While Chamisa is seen as the favourite to become the substantive MDC leader after the May gathering, some insiders are tipping Mwonzora to cause an upset — just like he did in 2014.
Then, Chamisa was defeated by Mwonzora for the secretary-general’s post — even though at the time the latter was considered as a rank outsider in those elections.
Chamisa then held the powerful post of MDC organising secretary, a position which was said to have given him the opportunity to revamp party structures in his favour — and which structures were expected to give him an overwhelming victory against Mwonzora who was the party spokesperson at the time.
Mwonzora scored a shock and unexpected crushing victory over Chamisa — which saw him 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 Tsvangirai who appointed him to the MDC national executive as secretary for policy and research.
There were even unconfirmed suggestions at the time that a stunned Chamisa, unwilling to stomach the results of those internal polls, was even contemplating resigning from the MDC altogether — which never happened.
In an ironic turn of fate, Chamisa was to later assume the reins of the country’s main opposition party ahead of his rivals, following the death of Tsvangirai last year.
Meanwhile, all Zanu PF provinces and party structures have already thrown weight behind Mnangagwa to be their sole candidate in 2023 watershed elections.