OPPOSITION CCC leader Mr Nelson Chamisa threw his former vice president and ally Mr Tendai Biti under the proverbial bus and rigged the Harare East candidate selection process against him because he believed that the latter had a hand in his failure to secure funding for the forthcoming elections during his recent visit to the United States, The Herald can report.
After his bid to secure millions of US dollars to fund his election campaign went up in smoke as the US government shut the door in his face citing a litany of undemocratic practices, and also abuse of previous funds, Mr Chamisa blamed all that on Mr Biti, Washington’s preferred opposition leader.
Despite feigning unity, insiders said the relationship between the two has irretrievably broken so much that even attempts by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, an ally of both, to get them to reconcile, have failed to restore trust in a bromance where there was never any love lost.
After his ill-fated trip to the US, which was undertaken under a veil of secrecy and subterfuge, Mr Chamisa, whose political moniker is “Cobra”, decided to manipulate the candidate selection process to ensure Mr Biti would not return to the House of Assembly.
On the other hand, Mr Biti is angry that Mr Chamisa is ungrateful because he rescued the party at the MDC-Alliance Gweru congress in 2019 where he availed US$150 000, the sources said.
In the US, Mr Chamisa, who had earlier received encouragement from the USAID, sought to coax the American government — through its illicit financing of regime change vehicles — to provide US$37 281 277 million for his election campaign with the immediate need for about US$340 000 for the nomination fees for himself and his candidates.
He was also seeking US$10 million for polling agents who would be paid US$200 per day.
On top of that he also wanted money to purchase 1 million T-shirts and an equal number of campaign paraphernalia such as bandanas. In all those efforts he drew blanks.
Well-placed sources said in his meeting with the US Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs officials, Mr Chamisa was shown unflattering reports from the US Embassy in Harare which were prepared by the Charge de’ Affairs Ms Ellaine French and acting mission director Mr Ramses Gauthier.
“The report that he received stated that CCC was a one-man party, he was told that the US does not support undemocratic institutions, he was told that he did not hold a congress even though he had ample time to do so, in short he was told he did not have a party but was an independent candidate,” the source said.
Apart from being confronted with details of his undemocratic credentials, Mr Chamisa was also told that his party lacks that intellectual aspect for any serious organisation seeking to win elections, and had no bank account where the money could, if availed, be deposited.
“On two occasions, the US Embassy requested for financial statements from the then united MDC when former MP Mr David Coltart was the treasurer general but those were never availed with Coltart claiming that he no longer held that position,” the source said.
Even the dead were not spared, as Mr Chamisa was also told that the US has poured millions into Zimbabwe to push for illegal regime change, but the late treasurer general Mr Roy Bennet failed to account for about US$24 million, while the late Morgan Tsvangirai was accused of abusing resources to build and furnish a mansion for his wife Elizabeth and also handsomely pay for an out of court settlement with his girlfriend Locadia Karimatsenga.
The sources said the reports on Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Bennet came from the party’s former vice president Elias Mudzuri having been prepared by the party’s former treasurer general Elton Mangoma in September 2013.
When his mission collapsed, and carrying the unpalatable instruction to democratise his party before seeking any financial assistance from the masters, an incensed Mr Chamisa blamed Mr Biti, the man who he had stripped of the role of deputy party president notwithstanding that he kept his position as president unelected.
“He strongly believed that he was decampaigned by Biti because he was one of the people who once left Tsvangirai along with Mangoma and Mudzuri, and he also believes Biti expects him to lose the election and then he can take over. So he removed Biti to ensure that he doesn’t have him as a potential challenger in Parliament while he is out, that is why he chose Markham (Rusty),” said a CCC insider.
But as far as Mr Biti is concerned, Mr Markham won by foul means as he alleges that Mr Chamisa had to bus his loyalists from Kuwadzana Constituency, where he was a former MP, and gave them addresses in Harare East and also party cards to queue behind Mr Markham in the discredited and medieval “bereka mwana voting system”.
Since the party concluded its contentious candidate selection process under a thick veil of secrecy, amid allegations of manipulation and rigging of the process to remove the old guard and replace them with Mr Chamisa’s minions, the papered cracks in the opposition are widening with experts predicting another split before or just after elections.