George Maponga in Masvingo
FORMER MDC Masvingo Urban legislator Mr Tongai Matutu yesterday tore into the party’s leadership led by Mr Nelson Chamisa accusing them of “witchcraft” for rigging elections to choose the party’s new leadership in the province ahead of the national Congress next month.
Mr Matutu said Mr Chamisa and fellow party officials who presided over Masvingo provincial elections at Masvingo Sports Club beginning Monday this week, had sown a “bad seed” that will haunt the opposition party in the 2023 elections.
The former legislator was disqualified from contesting the MDC Alliance Masvingo chairmanship on the grounds that he once quit the party then led by late ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai before he re-joined after heeding the MDC founding leader’s call for renegade members to return before his death.
Mr Matutu dumped Tsvangirai’s party and teamed up with Mr Tendai Biti and others to form the People’s Democratic Party.
He rejoined the party before the 2018 harmonised elections and according to his party’s constitution he was barred from holding office for five years for his misdemeanor.
Mr Matutu had covered a lot of ground in the race to lead MDC Alliance in Masvingo before his sudden disqualification on the eve of the polls together with former legislators; Mr Jeffreyson Chitando (Masvingo Central) and Oliver Chirume (Gutu Central).
“The leadership of the party was there from the president (Mr Chamisa) when I was disqualified and I do not know why they allowed that because the law cannot be applied selectively. What difference does it make that one rejoined the party as an individual and others came as part of the MDC Alliance, they know better why they did it, maybe they hate me or know something I don’t, you better ask them,” said Mr Matutu.
He said he was going to win hands down had he been allowed to stand against Mr James Gumbi in the race for the chairmanship.
The former MDC legislator said the pain and disillusionment caused by selective application of the law in disqualifying candidates coupled with blatant manipulation of the actual voting would boomerang on the party in 2023.
“This is a bad seed that has been sown by the leadership because the rigging and stuffing of ballot papers was there for all to see. I can actually equate it to witchcraft for the record. It is shocking that some people who purport to be men of God by day actually practise witchcraft at night and this will come back to haunt them. They will reap witchcraft come 2023,” he said.
Mr Matutu said poor handling of internal polls by the MDC Alliance and its leadership was a blemish on the party’s pretensions to be a democratic movement different from Zanu-PF.
“We have as a party claimed to be victims of rigging during elections but what we witnessed at Masvingo Sports Club was shocking. Talking of the MDC in Masvingo I can safely say pain and anger were written all over the faces of the majority of party members who came with the intention of electing leaders of their choice. The bad seed has been sown in Masvingo and its results will be seen in 2023, the performance of the MDC Alliance will be worse in the next general elections because of what has happened, the level of rigging is shocking.”
Mr Matutu said it will be difficult for the MDC Alliance to mobilise its membership for future electoral contests owing to the rampant disgruntlement caused by the level of electoral dishonesty and manipulation experienced in the party’s Masvingo provincial congress.
Mr Chamisa has almost won the leadership of the party before congress after having been the only one nominated for the post in all the provinces which have so far held their congresses.
The MDC Alliance managed one seat in Masvingo during the 2018 harmonised polls with Zanu-PF bagging the other 25.
The situation was blamed on deep-rooted paralysis in the party owing to rampant factionalism and infighting which saw the opposition party failing to set up structures in some Zanu-PF strongholds especially Mwenezi and Chiredzi.