SOME MDC Alliance bigwigs are said to be making a determined push to have the coalition’s firebrand deputy national chairperson, Job “Wiwa” Sikhala, expelled for his radical political activities and dogged opposition to Zanu-PF and its government.
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.
Contacted for comment, Sikhala would neither deny nor confirm the move to expel him saying if there were such moves he would respond to them after he had dealt with his current travails with authorities.
All this comes as the government has come under intense local, regional and international pressure over allegations of human rights violations by security forces following the foiled July 31 mass protests which Sikhala was part of the organisers.
It also comes after South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa recently dispatched a team of envoys to meet with President Emmerson Mnangagwa over his administration’s handling of its critics.
Sources told the Daily News that among the MDC Alliance bigwigs who allegedly wanted to see the back of Sikhala were secretary-general Chalton Hwende who apparently features in the referenced SC WhatsApp group messages.
“Wiwa is in trouble with the powers that be in the party. This is why no one is making a real effort within to fight for him with regards to his current victimisation by the government. Some even want him to be arrested.
“Some of (Nelson) Chamisa’s closest allies such as Hwende are also accusing Sikhala of using confrontational means to force Mnangagwa into dialogue.
“They view his role in the July 31 movement as a sign that the likes of him and other hardliners in the party no longer see dialogue as an option, which the party is open to.
“Sikhala is aware of the moves, but he maintains that the July 31 movement is a people’s initiative and above political parties as it even has the support of some Zanu-PF bigwigs,” one of the sources told the Daily News.
Another source said Sikhala was being viewed as a threat to Chamisa because of his audacious call for the removal of Mnangagwa and his government from power via mass protests.
“The feeling among many is that Chamisa is afraid to lead from the front, and his close lieutenants are aware of hard questions that have once again been asked of him regarding the July 31 protests.
“The more Sikhala and the likes of Tendai Biti continue to take an aggressive approach against Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF, the more question marks on Chamisa’s leadership hence their push for Sikhala’s expulsion,” another source told the Daily News.
This is not the first time that Sikhala has crossed swords with some MDC Alliance bigwigs.
Two months ago, Chamisa barred Sikhala and some of his other most loyal associates including his vice presidents Tendai Biti and Lynette Karenyi-Kore from speaking to the media.
Then, the gag order came after Biti and Sikhala had featured prominently in the independent press, especially the Daily News at a time that Chamisa was looking increasingly out of his depth in terms of giving direction to the embattled Alliance in its fight with Thokozani Khupe’s group.
At the time, Hwende said the gag order was consistent with the MDC Alliance’s constitution.
Regarding communication, the correct position is that we are coming up with a social media protocol for the party because we cannot regulate individuals’ social media accounts.
“We can only manage the party’s and the constitution is clear that only the president, the secretary-general, his deputy and the spokesperson speak on behalf of the party,” Hwende told the Daily News then.
Yesterday, Sikhala said if there were moves to expel him from the Alliance, he would deal with them once he had finished mobilising further mass action.
“I am currently worried about our people who are being attacked left, right and centre, 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.
“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 had 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 position 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 colour than at any given time,” he added.
All this comes as the government has been accused of launching a brutal crackdown against the organisers of last month’s flopped mass protests.
Rights groups have said dozens of opposition figures and activists have been tortured and assaulted in a retributive exercise by suspected security agents.
On its part, the government has refuted the allegations claiming instead that the opposition is allegedly working with foreigners to destabilise the country.