The MDC is headed for turbulent times amid reports that its longest serving deputy Thokozani Khupe is contemplating stepping down should Morgan Tsvangirai attempt to hand over power to any of her juniors.
Tsvangirai who is battling cancer of the colon hinted last week that he was considering quitting and handing over the reins of power to “the younger generation’’.
The announcement made in a new year’s message just before he flew out of the country for his routine medical check-up in South Africa, triggered intense jostling for his post among party bigwigs.
Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri — Tsvangirai’s two other deputies — subsequently declared that they were gunning for the former prime minister’s position should he be incapacitated to run for president in elections scheduled for later this year.
While it is widely believed that Tsvangirai has all but anointed Chamisa as his preferred successor, Khupe’s allies hinted yesterday that the former deputy prime minister will not take it lying down.
A close ally of Khupe, Abednico Bhebhe, told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the Member of Parliament for Makokoba will have little choice but to quit should Tsvangirai insist on handing over power to either Chamisa or Mudzuri while sidelining his longest serving deputy.
“She (Khupe) is a democrat who believes in constitutionalism and the only way out is for the party to follow the constitution or Khupe will have little option but to step down. She either will insist on following the constitution or she quits rather than being forced to be an accomplice in mutilating the party constitution,” Bhebhe said.
He warned that such a development could lead to another split saying “while that is not desirable, it could be inevitable because at the moment anything is possible”.
The MDC’s national organising secretary said Khupe, who could not be contacted for comment by the time of going to print, was more qualified to take over as president.
“The MDC constitution is very clear that if the president is incapacitated the vice president who, in this case, is Khupe takes over for not more than a year while she prepares for an extraordinary congress,” Bhebhe said.
He said while he was not Khupe’s spokesperson, they both share the same views “because being an academic doctor, she is a democrat who believes in constitutionalism as well”.
Bhebhe argued that Khupe was the only one of the three MDC deputies who was a product of congress since Chamisa and Mudzuri were directly appointed by Tsvangirai.
This is notwithstanding the fact that their appointment was sanctioned by the party’s national council — the MDC’s highest decision-making body outside congress — as provided for in the party constitution. Bhebhe also accused Chamisa and Mudzuri of seeking to stampede Tsvangirai out of power using illegal means.
“In my Ndebele culture, it is wrong for a king’s two sons to discuss succession when the Lordship is still there. When the king feels he cannot continue leading the kingdom, he calls all his sons to discuss the issue with them and suggest who he thinks should take over and a debate ensues from there until a consensus candidate is found,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bhebhe also blamed Tsvangirai for appointing Chamisa and Mudzuri without satisfactory justification. Khupe, Bhebhe and the MDC’s national chairperson Lovemore Moyo are at the centre of resisting Tsvangirai’s spirited attempts to ensure that the country’s fragmented opposition parties face Zanu PF at the elections as a united force.
Last year, Khupe and her allies were assaulted by some MDC youths who accused them of disrespecting the MDC leader after they boycotted the launch of the MDC Alliance in Harare.
They were reportedly meeting party structures from the southern region to articulate their position on why they missed the launch on August 5, 2017.
Allegations were also made that Tsvangirai had hired the thugs who attacked the three MDC officials at the party’s headquarters in Bulawayo.
The quartet is unhappy with Tsvangirai’s alleged dictatorial tendencies after he unilaterally formed the MDC Alliance without consulting the MDC leadership.