Four MDC Alliance councillors, who last week conspired to defy the party’s directive on the mayoral elections, have found themselves in serious trouble after they were made to appear before party president Nelson Chamisa and his deputy, Elias Mudzuri among other national executive heavyweights.
Party national chairperson Morgan Komichi, deputy treasurer-general Charlton Hwende and secretary for elections Murisi Zwizwai were also part of the panel that demanded the heads of the councillors but Chamisa is said to have showed mercy but ordered Collen Maboke, who allegedly organised the palace coup, to step down.
The Masvingo councillors, led by Maboke defied party position that councillor Godfrey Kurauone was to be the mayor and went a step further by rewarding Zanu PF with a deputy mayoral post. Zanu PF helped Maboke ‘steal’ the mayoral position from Kurauone after they were promised the deputy mayoral post.
It is said that while at the Harare meeting, Chamisa fumed at the councillors for ‘selling-out’ but gave them room to explain why they did it.
Maboke is said to have begged profusely for mercy, but Chamisa and the entire hearing panel would have none of it.
When contacted for comment, Maboke confirmed that he indeed begged for mercy during the Harare meeting. He, however, tried to be diplomatic when asked by TellZim News when he was going to step down from the position of mayor as they agreed in Harare.
“Yes, that is what happened in Harare. I am waiting for a written communication so that I can step down because that is what we agreed,” said Maboke.
When pressed to comment on his telephone conference with Murisi Zwizwai and James Gumbi when he was told no written communication will be send to him, Maboke became cagey before finally saying he no longer wanted to talk to the press about it.
“Combine all the comments you are getting and write your story; I don’t want to comment to the press,” said Maboke.
Gumbi was said to be influencing Maboke not to step down from the position of mayor. The provincial chair is said to be building his support base so that he can retain the position at the party’s congress next year, therefore, having Maboke as mayor would add another strategic person to his faction.
When contacted for comment, Gumbi denied the allegations, saying he would not want to legitimise such hearsay.
“People are free to say whatever they want but that does not give credence to those false allegations,” said Gumbi.
Political analysts, however, slammed Maboke for alleged lack of principles and power hunger, saying no amount of politicking should have involved going to bed with Zanu PF.
“Being a lawyer doesn’t mean one knows everything; no individual is bigger than the party, let alone the ‘mafikizolos’. I haven’t seen such desperation for power that one would prefer to go to bed with Zanu PF in order to get top post. It’s clear MDC Alliance has been infiltrated,” said one analyst.
A source at the meeting said Mudzuri, Hwende and Zwizwai wanted the councillors to be recalled and expelled from the party but Chamisa wanted a more lenient punishment.
“Maboke begged for his political life and Chamisa became lenient with him although the others wanted him gone for defying the party position.
“Chamisa told Maboke that the late Morgan Tsvangirai never liked him and was actually ashamed of him because he once appeared at a meeting that Tsvangirai was chairing at the party’s Masvingo provincial headquarters in Rhodene dead drunk, and then caused an embarrassing incident,” said the source.
While the meeting was progressing inside Morgan Tsvangirai House, party supporters wanted to storm the meeting and beat up all the ‘deviant’ councillors from Masvingo.
It was also revealed in the meeting that Zanu PF corrupted the whole process by dangling residential stands on Maboke, Babylon Beta, Selina Maridza and Tarusenga Vhembo in exchange for their vote in the deputy mayoral contest.
A subdued Beta is said to have shamelessly confessed that he was offered two stands by Zanu PF and he called national executive member to ask if he could accept the deal and he was given the go ahead to take it.
“Beta confessed that the plan was to isolate Richard Musekiwa, Kurauone and Daniel Mberikunashe and that he was offered two stands for his vote. He said before making any hasty decisions, he phoned one of the executive members for advice and he was told to go for it,” the source said.
Maboke was then ordered to stand down and pave way for Mberikunashe while the committees were dissolved for a fresh start and the four councillors were ordered to pay a fine of US$300 each.
“Chamisa later told Maboke that as long as the MDC was under his leadership, he will not hold any post and should be grateful that he had not been recalled and expelled,” said the source.
MDC Alliance provincial administrator, Peter Chigaba was, however, expelled from the party after it emerged that he was a kingpin in the conspiracy. The party’s Isuzu single cab pick-up truck that he used to drive around has since been taken away from him and he has been evicted from an apartment at the party’s provincial headquarters.
At the meeting, Mberikunashe was given the reigns of mayor instead of Kurauone after Vhembo told Chamisa that he had voted for Maboke because to him, there was no longer any difference between Maboke and Kurauone whom he said had seen hobnobbing with Zanu PF councillors.
“You should have seen poor Vhembo; he was kneeling on the flow and literally shaking with fear right from the knees. In his desperate attempt to save himself, he sunk Kurauone’s chances of bouncing back. After being asked to speak, Vhembo said he erred in his judgement but only because Maboke and Kurauone had become all the same to him because he had seen first-hand Kurauone lobbying Zanu PF councillors. Kurauone admitted the offence and this buried his chances of salvaging the mayorship for himself,” the source said.
Chamisa is said to then have chosen Mberikunashe because of his level headedness and that he was a more neutral compromise.
“Mai Maridza was also given a big dressing down. She was very frightened and almost comical in her quivering responses. It was a sight to see. She is now very angry with Maboke whom she accuses of selling her a poisoned chalice,” said another source.
Komichi could not answer his phone nor respond to questions sent to him on the matter but in a screenshot of a message he posted on a party WhatsApp group, he said the MDC constitution gave Chamisa the powers to appoint mayors.
“Our constitution gives power to president Chamisa to solely appoint mayors but he chose to be consultative. Let us all be guided accordingly,” the post reads.
The party’s Chegutu councillors were also summoned to answer for their own defiance of party directives although their case was not as serious as the Masvingo one.
The Chegutu councillors had been given a list of the party’s preferred mayoral candidate, right down to committee chairpersons but they defied the directive and came up with their own team.
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