Movement for Democratic Change leader Nelson Chamisa has virtually been assured of clinching the top post at next month’s congress but there are still fears that the party could split as Chamisa seems to be bulldozing his way through.
Secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora who was touted as one of the presidential contenders has withdrawn from the race saying that the independent electoral commission that was supposed to run the elections leading to the party congress set for 24-26 May, had failed to address the issues he raised.
Chamisa has so far been nominated by all the provinces that have held their provincial elections with Mwonzora failing to win a single endorsement.
There have been claims of vote rigging as some of the impromptu visits Chamisa has made to the provinces just before their elections have been construed as intimidation.
One political observer said there was too much at stake for Chamisa to expect him to give up his incumbency easily.
A group of MDC supporters have filed a court case that seeks to nullify the coming congress as they argue that Chamisa has no power to call the congress since his term as interim leader expired on 14 February.
They also claim that the party should hold an extra-ordinary congress and not an ordinary congress to fill the gap left by Morgan Tsvangirai, the founding leader, who died in February last year.
There have been allegations that those opposing Chamisa, including Mwonzora, are sponsored by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front which is said to be all out to prevent Chamisa from standing in 2023 as he narrowly lost to its leader Emmerson Mnangagwa last year.
But party insiders say there are genuine grievances from within the party as Chamisa is increasingly showing dictatorial tendencies and is sidelining all those who do not toe his line.
This has led to speculation that the party could split again before or after the congress, but if it does, Chamisa is likely to move on with the majority of supporters.
Mwonzora said he decided to step down because he does not want to divide the party but the future of the party will largely depend on what Chamisa will do with the losers.
Some of Chamisa’s supporters, including former Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo, have signaled that all is not well in the party especially after it lost the Cowdray Park council seat.
Divisions rocking the party ahead of the congress could make things worse unless they are addressed.