MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s perceived “blue-eyed boy” Nelson Chamisa’s had his promising political career blown off the rails at the weekend after he suffered a shock defeat to former Nyanga North legislator Douglas Mwonzora for the post of secretary-general.
Until the latest defeat, Chamisa had been touted as one of Tsvangirai’s possible successors, given his political clout which immensely contributed to his meteoric political rise from youth leader, party spokesperson and national organising secretary — all within a short space of time.
In contrast, Mwonzora had until Friday’s elective congress wore the underdog tag and was least expected to land the post after being nominated by just one out of the party’s 12 provinces.
However, Mwonzora garnered 2 464 votes against Chamisa’s 1 756.
“I feel humbled by the support l got from the members of the MDC. It shows their confidence in me,” Mwonzora said shortly after the announcement of the results early yesterday morning.
“I was very, very heartened that l was able to succeed.”
Magnanimous in victory, Mwonzora described Chamisa, a recent law graduate, as a bright young man with a good future.
“He is definitely a very difficult opponent, but at the end of the day, one of us had to win,” he said.
“The ultimate beneficiary, I think, is democracy.”
Chamisa, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, is believed to have offended Tsvangirai after he exhibited ambitions to take over the party’s leadership.
The two recently clashed in public during provincial elections in Manicaland after Tsvangirai allegedly manipulated the nomination system to ensure Mwonzora got nominated.
Chamisa’s sympathisers yesterday accused Tsvangirai of rigging the polls to ensure the youthful Kuwadzana East MP was left out of all key party structures as he was viewed as a threat to the presidency.
“Tsvangirai’s personal involvement in the running of provincial and national elections raised a lot of questions over the credibility of the polls,” said an MDC-T insider, who declined to be named.
“In the run-up to these elections, he bent all party rules to ensure his cronies got elected.”
However, Tsvangirai, in his closing remarks, described the internal polls conducted by officials from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, as free and fair, adding that in the MDC-T there were no losers or winners.
The secretary-general’s post, long considered as one of the most powerful positions in the MDC-T, fell vacant early this year after the incumbent, Tendai Biti broke ranks with Tsvangirai and formed the MDC Renewal Team.
Mwonzora’s deputy will be Mufakose legislator Paurina Mpariwa Gwanyanya, who was elected unopposed.
Party chairman Lovemore Moyo and his deputy Morgan Komichi both retained their posts unopposed.
Theresa Makone landed the treasurer’s post and her deputy will be Charton Hwende. Former Harare provincial spokesperson Obert Gutu won the party spokesperson’s post unchallenged and his deputy will be Bulawayo East MP Tabitha Khumalo.
Former Chimanimani West MP Lynette Karenyi will head the women’s assembly with Happymore Chidziva taking charge of the youth wing.
Former deputy organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe was elected to the post of organising secretary and would be deputised by Nkulumane MP Thamsanqa Mahlangu.
Tsvangirai remains party leader together with his deputy Thokozani Khuphe after they were both unopposed.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai urged the new executive to work harder to fulfil its election promises and ensure a resounding MDC-T electoral victory in 2018.
“This should be our last congress as opposition,” he said.
“Let us now all work towards stabilising the party, victory is certain.”
Tsvangirai admitted that the party was broke and paid homage to outgoing acting secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada, Chamisa and Makone for working tirelessly in mobilising resources for the congress.