PRISCILLA Misihairabwi-Mushonga has been gagged from discussing party issues in the media as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leadership institutes measures to calm the political waters spattered by her resignation last month as the party’s secretary-general.

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misihairabwiSince her resignation, the opposition legislator has been avoiding granting interviews to the media, which is uncharacteristic of her.

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Her last interview, which made the MDC leadership extremely uncomfortable, was a hard-hitting question and answer with the Financial Gazette early this year.

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In the interview, Misihairabwi-Mushonga bared her soul, hinting at her imminent resignation from the party’s top brass, unhappy with how things were turning out in the MDC.

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Party insiders told this paper last week that she reached an agreement with the MDC leadership to desist from giving interviews to the media on issues to do with the troubled party.

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The MDC is currently reeling from the resignation of several key officials since its defeat in elections in July 2013.

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Frank Chamunorwa, the former MDC deputy national chairperson and an ally of Misihairabwi-Mushonga is the latest to resign from the party.

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The former MDC secretary-general is said to have been told that interfacing with the media was an exclusive function of the party’s national spokesperson, Nhlanhla Dube, although Welshman Ncube, the MDC leader, and Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, the acting secretary-general, could also speak to the press by virtue of their senior positions in the party.

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The gag order was meant to prevent Misihairabwi-Mushonga from speaking out strongly and openly on issues that she was reported to be unhappy about in the party.

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In explaining the reasons for dumping the party, Chamunorwa said he, along with Misihairabwi-Mushonga were accused of being part of “a gang of four,” that is allegedly opposed to Ncube leading the United Movement for Democratic Change (UMDC).

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UMDC is the name of the soon-to-be-merged MDC and the MDC Renewal Team, led in the interim by Sekai Holland.

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Before her resignation, Misihairabwi-Mushonga had worked tirelessly along with her counterpart in the MDC Renewal Team, Tendai Biti towards the unification of both parties.

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By agreeing to the terms of the said “agreement”, she could be trying to work for the greater good of the party than pursuing a vindictive agenda that could cast her in negative light.

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Asked for a comment on the issue, Misihairabwi-Mushonga refused to take questions.

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She said: “I have no comment on those issues; I can only speak out on my work which involves being a Member of Parliament for my constituency in Matabeleland South.”

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Dube dismissed the existence of a gag order saying it was mischievous to suggest that “a democratic institution such as the MDC would go against its democratic values” and gag one of its own party members.

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“The resignation of Misihairabwi-Mushonga is public knowledge and all that there is to know has been made known. If there is anything to either add or subtract it is only her who can avail that detail if it does exist in the first place,” said the party’s national spokesperson.

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Those close to Misihairabwi-Mushonga said it was just a matter of time before she reverts to being herself — outspoken.

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“She does not want to be the one who throws the first stone and this is a strategy to allow her accusers to throw stones at her and in turn this may liberate her to then speak out in defence,” said an MDC insider.

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“It’s much more than a gag order. On her part she is trying to act responsibly. One obviously cannot help but always wonder why someone like her who was always speaking to the media, is now quiet all of a sudden.”

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Misihairabwi-Mushonga appeared for the first time in public at the launch of the UMDC in Bulawayo earlier this month.

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Her appearance put paid to speculation that she may ditch the party, which she has been part of since it broke away from the mainstream MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai in 2005.

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Her resignation has meant that she reverts to being an ordinary card-carrying member of the MDC although she still holds the party’s seat in the National Assembly reserved for women under proportional representation in Matabeleland South. – FinGaz