By Tafara Shumba

In May this year, the MDC holds its first elective congress after the death of its founding president, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai. It is the first congress under the stewardship of its youthful leader, Nelson Chamisa who took over under controversial circumstances.

The world has a keen interest in this congress. The opposition party has been accusing Zanu PF of stealing elections. The world, therefore, wants to see how the internal electoral process pans out. Everybody wants to see if the so-called paragon of democracy will practise the democratic principles it so generously prescribes to others. The congress will be a barometer that will meter the popularity of Chamisa, more so after failing to climb to the presidency by popular vote.

Already there are tell-tale signs of miscarriage of democracy by a party that calls itself a democratic party. The party constitution is being thrown to the winds and there have been attempts to manipulate the document that should determine their fundamental political principles. A deep crack has emerged in the party and a split is on the horizon. One faction says the constitution only allows four positions to be contested at the congress and the rest will be appointed by the elected president. The other faction claims that the constitution stipulates that all posts are up for grab at the congress.

Both factions have not conclusively substantiated their positions by citing relevant constitutional provisions. There is even suspicion that the party has been operating without a constitution all this whole time.

The incumbent is ring-fencing his position. There is a scheme to elbow out those with interests in the presidency. Chamisa and his allies are employing the tactic of a leopard which accuses its kids of smelling like a goat when it wants to devour them. The party’s secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora is being accused of smelling like Zanu PF. He is being accused of being a Zanu PF project meant to knock that party off balance. He is alleged to have taken delivery of $6 million to carry out the destabilisation task.

Mwonzora’s credentials are being questioned. They say Mwonzora only joined the MDC in 2007 as if it’s a crime when there are the likes of Tendai Biti, Job Sikhala and Dr Nkululeko Sibanda who only joined that party last year and are already vying for very senior positions. These people must know better but they are at the fore front of using the technique that nearly wrecked their political career. Their return to the big tent has not added any value but confusion.

Of course many people have no interest in the affairs of the MDC but there is always a natural propensity to empathise with the small fry in a battle. The Chamisa faction is unwittingly making Mwonzora likeable.

Mwonzora has all of sudden become a Zanu PF member because there is a congress. It has become a tradition of the MDC to use the labelling technique of propaganda on everyone with a divergent view from the leader who is usually treated as a deity. They use labelling in an attempt to arouse prejudices in supporters by cataloguing the object of the propaganda campaign as someone the supporters fear, hate, loathe, or find undesirable.

Biti, the front man in the campaign to soil Mwonzora, once fell victim to this technique when he broke away from the MDC-T with Elton Mangoma to form their renewal project. Job Sikhala, another merchant of the technique was also labelled a Zanu PF project when he left the so-called big tent to form his MDC 99. Dr Thokozani Khupe is yet another high profile victim of labelling. However, it is now a hackneyed technique that very few can buy into.

The MDC always sees the shadow of Zanu PF in every misfortune that befalls it. Without taking anything from Zanu PF, the party cannot be that omnipotent. If the ruling party can sponsor Mwonzora and manage to popularise him that much, then the MDC has no chance in an election where Zanu PF features in full throttle.

If Zanu PF was not as popular as the MDC always says, surely there was no need of this overwhelming panic about a Zanu PF project. The Republican Party cannot lose sleep over an insider being sponsored by a microscopic Libertarian Party. It goes to show that the MDC is not sincere in their claim of a victory in last year’s elections.

Zanu PF has a lot on its hands to find time to pry on the MDC affairs. It is preoccupied with the economic regeneration in keeping with its electoral promises. The MDC must just follow its constitution to the tee and practise the democracy it always preaches.

If Chamisa is popular, he must allow contestation. It will give him pride to be at the helm of the party through a popular vote and a clean triumph.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.