Chamisa clashes with Mudzuri as leadership race hots up

HARARE – MDC leader Nelson Chamisa called his deputy Elias Mudzuri to order during the party’s national standing committee meeting held at the party headquarters in Harare recently for engaging in perceived acts that could undermine unity in the party.

This was after Mudzuri had been linked to a controversial Twitter post expressing the desire to challenge Chamisa at the party’s elective congress due next year.

While Mudzuri disowned the Twitter account as fake, MDC insiders told the Daily News that Chamisa confronted him, seeking an explanation from his deputy about the post.

“The president asked him what he was communicating to the party given that nothing about congress had been discussed so far in terms of canvassing for support,” the source said.

“In his defence, Mudzuri apologised saying that he suspects that his account was hacked by people who want to tarnish his name and that he would never do such a thing as a senior party official”.

Contacted for comment Mudzuri confirmed that the issue was indeed discussed, but said the allegations were the work of his detractors who are bent on causing problems in the party.

“I am not keen on commenting on such issues because my name has been abused for a long time by people who say things they do not know. Those who bring it to the party are the ones who are behind it just to tarnish my name but I have my own thinking regarding that and I am old enough that I don’t need anyone to say things on my behalf. I will say what I think when the time comes otherwise I will make them happy by responding,” Mudzuri said.

Mudzuri’s name has always popped up each time there is talk about succession in the MDC.

When MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai was on his deathbed early this year, Mudzuri, Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe engaged in an ugly succession fight, which led Khupe to break away from the party.

On one occasion, Chamisa and Mudzuri engaged in a public spat at an MDC Alliance rally at Huruyadzo Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza after the former barred the latter from speaking on behalf of the party, claiming he was anointed by Tsvangirai to lead the grouping.

Before Tsvangirai’s death, Mudzuri was the acting president, while Chamisa was leading activities to do with the Alliance, which led to serious power struggles in the former labour-backed party ahead of the 2018 polls.

However, the two managed to bury the hatchet later and after the national council endorsed Chamisa.

Mudzuri had not publicly contested Chamisa since the meeting of the national council and the subsequent consultative meeting of the party which was held in Harare.

Mudzuri’s ambitions can be traced back to 2014 when he threatened to challenge Tsvangirai at an MDC congress.

Ahead of that congress, he had said he would not turn down the call to lead the party if the opportunity arose.

“Do you intend to become the editor of your paper one day?” Mudzuri asked. “If you do, then that is what applies to everyone. When that position is vacant, then it is a possibility but at the moment there is no vacancy.”

Before the 2014 MDC congress, he was fingered by Tsvangirai’s loyalists to have been part of a group led by the party’s former treasurer Roy Bennett — now late — which was advocating for leadership change in the party.