MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube has fallen out with his long-time ally and party secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga over positions in a new party being formed with the MDC Renewal Team. Sources within the MDC told The Chronicle that Ncube and Misihairabwi-Mushonga had fallen out over allegations that the secretary-general was backing Tendai Biti, leader of the Renewal Team, to lead the united party ahead of Ncube.
Misihairabwi Mushonga, it is claimed, is doing this to secure herself the post of secretary-general in the united party. An agreement signed between the two parties states that the posts of president and secretary general will be split — ensuring that if the MDC Renewal candidate wins the presidency, the secretary-general will come from the MDC and vice versa.
“Word has reached Ncube that Misihairabwi-Mushonga has been going around advocating that Biti leads the united party while Ncube deputises him. This has been viewed as betrayal from the Ncube camp as there’s a feeling that Misihairabwi-Mushonga is showing more allegiance to Biti than to Ncube,” said a party official, speaking on condition they were not named.
“Ncube has directly confronted Misihairabwi Mushonga over the matter and relations are now frosty. He has elected to close ranks with all party activists who had brushes with the SG, including Kurauone Chihwayi, who was suspended in November.” Last Friday, Ncube allegedly ordered the reversal of Chihwayi’s suspension.
The source said the MDC national chairperson and Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s ally, Goodrich Chimbaira, who is leading the unification negotiations with his MDC Renewal counterpart Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, is pushing that the SG’s post be given to her. “Chimbaira is eyeing the chairmanship and at worst the vice chairmanship. He or Sipepa Nkomo would be chairperson and the other would be deputy,” added the official.
Misihairabwi was accused of throwing tantrums when things do not go her way, with reports in some sections of the media speculating over her retirement from politics. “She always threatens to leave when things don’t go her way. She has been doing that emotional blackmail for a long time to arm-twist the leadership. Ncube would always bow to her pressure, but now he’s having none of it,” the official added.
“She did the same at the last party congress, threatening to quit because things did not go her way, but she never did.”
The party’s Matabeleland South executive is reportedly mulling a meeting at which a no-confidence vote will be passed on Misihairabwi-Mushonga, setting the stage for her recall from parliament where she landed via proportional representation.
Sources said another senior MDC official likely to be left in the cold when the two parties eventually merge was deputy president, Edwin Mushoriwa.
“Mushoriwa, once a close ally of Ncube, has been forgotten in the jostling for posts. Word is that he feels let down especially by Ncube, who seems to have abandoned him. Mushoriwa is fast sinking into obscurity.”
Prof Ncube last night dismissed reports of a rift between himself and Misihairabwi-Mushonga, insisting any member was free to back a candidate of their choice when the parties unite. “If indeed there was any truth in such allegations, Priscilla has not indicated any of that to me. Everyone has a right to choose the leader that they prefer, there’s no crime to that. Everyone will be at liberty to choose a leader they want whether from the MDC or MDC Renewal because we’ll be forming one party,” he said. Misihairabwi-Mushonga last night said she had “nothing to say”.