Mwonzora chickens out of presidential race

PULLS OUT: MDC T Leader Douglas Mwonzora


…with tail wagging between his legs

By Sibanengi Dube

MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora steered the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s party into political oblivion, crushing the icon’s posthumous dream of a labour-backed government.

Tsvangirai must be wailing and writhing in his grave over such colossal betrayal. The charismatic crowd-pleaser must be cursing his bones for choosing a ‘Judas Iscariot’ as his Secretary General over his loyal disciple Nelson Chamisa, at the doomed MDC Congress held at Agricultural show in Harare.

The clown’s pen turned out to be mightier than the sword, slashing through MDC’s hopes and dreams, squandering the colossal political capital that the party had amassed since 1999. Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda broke away from Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, singing the chorus of change which resonated with workers, students, unemployed and farmers who by then were going through the worst economic turmoil under the leadership of the late dictator Robert Mugabe.

Mwonzora cited unfair treatment by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and lack of funding as the reasons for his decision. He said that his party would instead focus on parliamentary and local government elections, where he hoped to win more seats.

But his withdrawal exposed his defeat and fear, as well as his treachery to his allies and supporters. For the past two years, Mwonzora had been locked in a fierce power struggle with his former ally, Chamisa, who formed the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) to oust Dougie, who never had a chance from the start.

Chamisa, who had narrowly missed the 2018 presidential throne to Emmerson Mnangagwa, branded Mwonzora as a Zanu-PF stooge and a saboteur of the democratic cause.

Chamisa launched the CCC in January 2022, after Mwonzora had hijacked the name and assets of the MDC Alliance, a coalition of opposition parties that had rallied behind Chamisa in 2018.

Mwonzora adamantly and ruthlessly expelled scores of MDC Alliance MPs, senators and councillors from parliament and local councils, leaving Chamisa with a decimated base. Some of the prominent figures who were sacrificed by Mwonzora’s machete include Harare mayor Herbert Gomba, Kuwadzana MP Charlton Hwende, Mutare mayor Blessing Tandi and Bulawayo deputy mayor Tinashe Kambarami.

Mwonzora’s move was widely condemned as a scheme to fragment and cripple the opposition and to curry favour with Mnangagwa, who had faced mounting criticism and protests over his mismanagement of the economy, human rights abuses and corruption.

Some analysts speculated that Mwonzora had struck a deal with Mnangagwa to be appointed as vice-president or prime minister after the 2023 election, in exchange for splitting the opposition vote.

But Mwonzora’s plan backfired spectacularly on Tuesday, when he reality on the ground compelled him to withdraw from the presidential race. His announcement was greeted with jubilation by millions of Zimbabweans who saw it as a victory for Chamisa and a vindication of their cause.

They mocked Mwonzora on social media, calling him a sell-out, a traitor and a loser. They also reminded him of how he had wrestled the iconic Harvest House, the headquarters of the MDC Alliance, from Chamisa in December 2020, with the help of security forces.

Mwonzora’s dream of winning the 2023 elections was nothing but a delusional fantasy, as he imagined himself leaving Mnangagwa in the dust, while the reality was far from it.

The only place where Mwonzora could beat Mnangagwa was in his own mind, as he dreamed of a landslide victory in 2023, but woke up to a harsh truth of his irrelevance and unpopularity.

Mwonzora made a fool of himself when he claimed to have dreamt of winning the 2023 elections with a wide margin, while Mnangagwa trailed behind. He however woke up from the slumber today and threw in the towel.

It was a pathetic sight to see Mwonzora boasting about his dream of winning the 2023 elections, as if it was a prophecy or a guarantee. He did not realize that Mnangagwa was not his only opponent, and that the people of Zimbabwe had no faith in both him and Mnangagwa.

The dream was a delusional fantasy and a laughable attempt to discredit Chamisa, whom he conveniently omitted from his imaginary scenario. He imagined himself leaving Mnangagwa in the dust, while the reality was far from it. He tried to promote Mnangagwa as his main rival. While Chamisa is currently pulling amazing crowds at his rallies, but Mwonzora abandoned fort before addressing a single rally of even 10 people.

Dr. Pedzisai Ruhanya, a respected political analyst and activist fired the first shot at Mwonzora. Dr. Ruhanya tweeted: “Mwonzora has finally admitted that he is a Zanu-PF project. He has no support base, no vision, no strategy. He has wasted his time and resources fighting Chamisa instead of fighting for democracy. He has lost everything: Harvest House, MPs, councillors, senators and now his dignity.”

Other prominent figures who reacted to Mwonzora’s withdrawal include:

  • Fadzayi Mahere, the spokesperson of the CCC, who said: “Mwonzora’s withdrawal is a confirmation that he was never a genuine opposition leader. He was working with Zanu-PF to destroy the people’s movement. He has failed miserably and exposed himself as a fraud.”
  • Tendai Biti, the vice-president of the CCC and former finance minister, who said: “Mwonzora’s withdrawal is a victory for democracy and justice. He was an impostor who usurped our name and our assets. He was a traitor who betrayed our struggle. He was a coward who ran away from facing Chamisa.”
  • Thokozani Khupe, the former leader of the MDC-T and former vice-president of Zimbabwe, who said: “Mwonzora’s withdrawal is a disappointment and a betrayal. He was supposed to unite the opposition and challenge Zanu-PF. He was supposed to uphold our values and principles. He was supposed to respect our constitution and our members.”
  • Lovemore Madhuku, the leader of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and a constitutional law expert, who said: “Mwonzora’s withdrawal is a rational and strategic decision. He realized that he had no chance of winning against Mnangagwa

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