Call him an impostor, a Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front puppet, or what other profanity, but self-proclaimed Citizens Coalition for Change interim secretary general Sengezo Tshabangu is doing exactly what every secretary general of the main opposition has done since the Movement for Democratic Change was formed in 1999.
They have challenged the leadership over a policy or constitutional issue, and when the party leader refused to budge, they broke away forming a splinter party, leaving the leader to start afresh.
All splits, ironically, have occurred soon after elections.
Though the CCC has not split up yet, the seeds are there.Tshabangu says the party is contesting the 9 December by-elections which were proclaimed after he recalled 15 Members of Parliament and 17 councillors. Party leader Nelson Chamisa says the party is boycotting the elections.
The final blow, however, is that Tshabangu has vowed to reduce Chamisa to nothing because Chamisa is pretending that he does not know him when he has done so much for the party.
Rewind to 2005. Morgan Tsvangirai, who was leader of the MDC, said that the party would boycott elections for the Senate which was being reintroduced after a 16-year break. Welshman Ncube, the secretary general said it would participate.
Tsvangirai was smarting from a humiliating defeat in the 2005 parliamentary elections.
The party which almost upset the ruling ZANU-PF in the 2000 elections when it won 57 of the 120 contested seats, plunged to 41 seats.
Ncube prevailed, though the party fielded only 26 candidates to the Senate and won seven seats. The split was sealed in 2006, forcing Tsvangirai to rename his faction MDC-T. Ncube walked away with 24 parliamentary seats leaving Tsvangirai with 17.
Tsvangirai who was bigger than the party until his death in 2018 retained his popularity and support beating President Robert Mugabe in the 2008 elections though the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said he had not won enough seats for an outright victory. There had to be a run-off. Tsvangirai pulled out because of the violence that ensued.
His party also beat ZANU-PF. It won 100 of the 210 contested seats. ZANU-PF won 99 while Ncube’s MDC dropped to 10. One seat went to Jonathan Moyo who stood as an independent.
Despite his victory Tsvangirai was forced to enter into a government of national unity in 2009 and this cost him the 2013 elections with his party dropping to 49 seats. Ncube did not win a single seat.
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