The battle for the MDC Masvingo provincial chairperson post between incumbent James Gumbi and rival Tongai Matutu is turning ugly in Mwenezi district with members of the two camps engaging in serious mudslinging and turning social media platforms into war zones.
The Gumbi team in the district is fronted by the current district chairperson Timitia Dziva who is also facing a stiff challenge from his deputy Alfred Sithole Chihwakwa.
Dziva’s team is reportedly moving around the district discrediting rivals.
“Dziva is engaging in divisive politics that will cost the party if it goes unchecked. He is moving around telling some members not to accommodate those who once left the party. He is even arguing that some Alliance partners should not hold any party post as they do not know the party’s ideology and history,” said an insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.
When contacted for comment, Dziva professed his support for Gumbi but refuted allegations that he is employing dirty tactics.
“As the current district chairperson and as is always the norm, I support the existing office bearers from Gumbi up to President Nelson Chamisa. I am not discrediting anyone in any way but my opponents are soiling my name by taking every opportunity to falsely accuse me of dictatorial tendencies,” said Dziva.
Leaked WhatsApp messages purportedly sent by Dziva to some members in the district, however, seem to prove the allegations.
“Murisei maleader vakakusvikirai here ana Chihwakwa neteam yake yana Mapepa (ZimPF provincial vice chairperson). Tichengeterei musangano varume paward ipapo. Ivo vakatumwa kuuputsa. Vamwe vacho ndevakauya muparty zuro havana kana chavanoziva vanofanira kutodzikama kugara pasi chaiko,” reads part of the message.
In the district’s WhatsApp group, vicious accusations and counter accusations have become party members’ daily meal. Members take turns to accuse each other of belonging to the ‘wrong camp’, meaning a faction that is backing party secretary general Douglas Mwonzora to take over from Chamisa.
In another group, a staunch Gumbi supporter with the name Bhuru goes into overdrive, relaying malicious audios and text messages lambasting the Matutu camp.
“Matutu and team are sell-outs. I just equate them to people who led to the bombing of Nyadzonya and Chimoi during the liberation struggle. We just accommodate them in the party out of sympathy. Gumbi hoyee,” reads part of Bhuru’s text.
In the same group, members of the Matutu camp ruthlessly attack and insult Bhuru.
“Matutu is a hard worker and has proved beyond any reasonable doubt during his tenure in 2008. Your Gumbi is a disgrace and disservice to the whole province as evidenced by the party’s performance in the recent elections. As for now, we are definitely going to elect Gumbi to be our branch chairperson in Zaka district,” reads one of the messages.
Respected political analyst, Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya, recently warned that the party risks disintegrating and falling into irrelevance if its internal democratic practices are not strengthened.
Writing on Facebook, Ruhanya said the party’s provincial leadership was only fighting for positions without reenergising the structures.
“The MDC will be in huge trouble in 2023 if it does not organise its Masvingo provincial, district, ward and branch structures. The leadership fight for power but the structures are in disarray with no leadership at the grassroots. The provincial leadership are mostly tourists, visitors in Masvingo. Was in the village and what I saw and heard is pathetic, MDC Masvingo is pathetic and represents the neuroses of undesirable representatives of opposition politics. They are arrogant, divisive, pompous, impose their surrogates (sic) and suicidal. This explains why they got 1 seat out of 26 in 2018 election but they remain defiant like the Bourbon Monarch,” said Ruhanya, who hails from Zaka.