The arrest of MDC Alliance vice president Job “Wiwa” Sikhala, in Harare on Friday has opened a can of worms within the country’s afflicted opposition, with accusations flying around furiously as to how he ended up being nabbed by authorities.
Yesterday, two party members who had been living with Sikhala in hiding openly accused each other of selling out the larger than life Zengeza West legislator, as trouble continues to stalk Zimbabwe’s main opposition.
This comes after insiders told the Daily News a fortnight ago that some MDC Alliance officials were allegedly pushing to have Sikhala arrested over his robust politics towards President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the government.
As accusations and counter-accusations raged within the alliance over the weekend as to how Sikhala ended up being arrested by authorities, youth spokesperson Stephen “Sarkozy” Chuma and former Zanu-PF youth leader Jim Kunaka were among those who pointed fingers at each other over the arrest.
Sikhala was arrested in Tynwald North, a western suburb of Harare – ending six weeks of evading authorities over his alleged role in the foiled July 31 anti-government mass protests.
Chuma, who is seen as a “disciple” of Sikhala, yesterday denied accusations that he had sold out his mentor, instead of pointing fingers at Kunaka.
“Kunaka has a friend who is a member of the CID (Criminal Investigations Department) who came to our hiding place regularly, bringing him food. One day we left the house in the morning with other comrades.
“After we left, I received a call from Kunaka telling me that they had brought me a phone as I had lost mine and that I needed to rush back to the hiding place within 30 minutes or he would take it back to the shop.
“Unfortunately, we had no car, but a few moments later we heard that Wiwa had been arrested,” Chuma told the Daily News.
“Jim was not at the hiding place when the arrest was made, yet he is not being implicated. The same person who is accusing me is the one who used to bring his CID friends, about three times,” he added.
Chuma also told the Daily News that the majority of the 14 people on the police wanted list were living together at the Tynwald North house.
“I am so much in pain because the person who was arrested (Sikhala) is more like a brother and father to me.
“I have known Wiwa since 2014. I was linked to him by the late (MDC president Morgan) Tsvangirai. I keep so many secrets with Sikhala.
“I literally live off Sikhala and I can even tell you that all my rentals up to December were paid by Sikhala. I don’t know why I would then bite the hand that feeds me,” Chuma said further.
On his part, Kunaka said he was convinced that Chuma had snitched on Sikhala after the combative Zengeza West legislator allegedly showed him messages that he got from some sources before he was arrested.
“Before we came to the Tynwald house, Sikhala told us that one of us was selling out without mentioning names. I pressured him to say who it was.
“He pointed at Sarkozy (Chuma), who then said there were people who wanted to divide us. Sikhala said nothing more, probably thinking that he had changed.
“But then on Wednesday, he (Sikhala) came to our room and told us that there was a security threat and that he had messages from his sources that Sarkozy was still selling out,” Kunaka told the Daily News.
Kunaka – a former leader the notorious and now-defunct Chipangano terror group – also said he had left the Tynwald North house on Thursday, after hearing that his wife was unwell.
“I left after I consulted Sikhala and … I was supposed to come back on Friday night. I then called Sarkozy to go and collect a phone that I had taken from my shop and told him he would pay for it later as he had lost his.
“I then got a message from some of the guys who were with Sarkozy that Sikhala had been arrested,” he said further.
In addition, Kunaka claimed that their security could have been compromised by other people they were staying with since some went out of the house to buy beer.
In the meantime, and as Sikhala appeared in court at the weekend, many opposition members engaged in an animated debate over the direction and effectiveness of the MDC Alliance.
Sikhala had been in hiding ever since suspected State agents began trailing him in the run-up to the foiled July 31 mass demonstrations.
In the last few weeks, the lawyer-cum-politician had called upon Zimbabweans to crank up the heat on authorities, after the government successfully stopped the planned demonstrations.
Two weeks ago, the Daily News was told that some MDC Alliance bigwigs were pushing to have Sikhala expelled for his radical political activities and dogged opposition to Zanu-PF and its government.
So bad was the situation said to have become for Sikhala, that sources told the Daily News at the time that some of his comrades were even hoping that authorities would manage to fish him out of his hideout.
The sources who spoke to the Daily News said senior Alliance officials had recently discussed Sikhala’s jettisoning in the party’s Standing Committee (SC) WhatsApp group – of which the combative Zengeza West MP is a member.
Sikhala would neither deny nor confirm the move to expel him – saying then that if there were such moves he would respond to them after he had dealt with his travails with authorities.
“I am currently worried about our people who are being attacked left, right and center, including myself, and who are living in bushes – running away from persecution.
“If ever anything like that is happening (moves to expel him), I will see to that when I come out.
“I accepted the role to be with others in the quest for a corruption-free and looting-free society when people sharing the same vision with me invited me,” Sikhala told the Daily News at the time.
“When I accept that I will stand with you, I don’t betray you later. I promised my colleagues … who are also under siege like me that we shall stand together with the people of Zimbabwe and I don’t betray what I promised.
“The demonstrations were basically citizen-driven and I agreed to be one of their spokespersons. I could have been at my law chambers making money, but people’s interests supersede my personal interests,” Sikhala said further.
In a statement that he issued earlier, Sikhala appeared to hint about the divisions in the MDC Alliance over his role in the protests.
“The 31st July Movement is a convergence initiative of citizens on critical and urgent issues of national concern affecting the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans.
“The 31st July Movement has broad-based constituencies of all citizens, across the political divide, including those in Zanu-PF who are not happy with the deplorable state of affairs pervading our country.
“It is wrong and crass for anyone to associate my position in the MDC Alliance with my role in this all-inclusive and broad-based movement of citizens,” Sikhala said.
“I am not playing my role on the instructions of my party but the role allocated to me by the stakeholders driving the 31st July Movement.
“Therefore when I speak, I am speaking on behalf of the broad citizens, not on behalf of any political party.
“This is because citizen interests cut across the political divide. That is the objective of the 31st July Movement: to unite all our citizens.
“Zimbabwe needs unity today beyond political color than at any given time,” he added.
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