Chamisa changes tact – Business Daily News Zimbabwe
The Nelson Chamisa-led party in the end decided to momentarily ice dialogue efforts with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and will now instead roll out demonstrations to force the Zanu-PF leader to the negotiating table.
Insiders said it was a doves and hawks scenario as hardliners in the opposition party felt Chamisa is slowly losing the initiative by failing to take the war to Mnangagwa, whose term of office has been blighted with an economic meltdown and low public confidence.
MDC spokesperson Daniel Molekeli, however, said the retreat held in the ancient city of Masvingo is an internal matter.
“We were discussing internal issues, it is an internal matter. Some of the things we discussed will be shown as we move forward but we cannot discuss them now in the media,” said Molekeli.
Since last year’s disputed elections, the MDC and its biggest rival Zanu-PF have been playing hide and seek on the issue of dialogue with Chamisa on several occasions sending emissaries to the ruling party.
Insiders told the Daily News that among issues discussed during the retreat, that was the first for the current national executive since the party’s congress in May, were participation in future elections as well as the issue of changing tact in the face of Mnangagwa’s refusal to dialogue, specifically with Chamisa.
“It was a strategic meeting and we were debating issues around elections, we have had several by-elections since last year, the conditions are still the same, so there were discussions on whether we should continue participating in elections especially with questionable characters being appointed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), it was decided that we will keep watching the situation closely with the option of boycotting future elections,” said the insider.
The MDC, which has repeatedly raised issues with the composition of Zec with strong allegations of the militarisation and securitisation of the body that runs elections in the country, raised concern over the appointment of Utoile Salaigwana as the substantive chief elections officer of the commission a fortnight ago.
Due to deep divisions, the opposition party failed to come up with a concrete decision on whether to boycott national plebiscites or not, the sources said.
“It’s clear that people want action, it is clear that public anger is at its highest level against the government, that issue was debated and it was agreed that we cannot rely on the economy alone to force people to demonstrate, they were some who thought the leadership is not doing enough and pointed out to the party’s reaction to the arrest of Job Sikhala (deputy national chairperson) after he allegedly called for the “overthrowing” of government, it was clear from the meeting that there are divisions on the best way forward,” the top MDC official said.
The MDC leadership now faces a potential rebellion from its increasingly restive supporters who want action and who were riled by the party’s decision to throw Sikhala under the bus.
After Sikhala sensationally called for an overthrow of Mnangagwa – whose government has so far failed to deliver on its electoral pledges made last year – the ruling party Zanu-PF and government predictably called for the arrest of the motor-mouth legislator.
But in an unusual move that exposed ructions within the opposition, the party’s deputy secretary spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka issued a statement seemingly dumping Sikhala.
Writing on social media, Chamisa cryptically said “way forward … Rolling out peaceful mobilisation, Reload rallies for change and reforms”.