MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe risks being hauled before the party’s disciplinary committee and could be thrown out of the party after snubbing another key party meeting this week.
Khupe missed last week’s national standing committee (NSC) meeting at the party’s headquarters in Harare and was nowhere to be seen again when NSC met at the same venue on Wednesday.
Sources said Khupe’s failure to attend meetings was now being viewed as contemptuous in the context of her reservations about the creation of the MDC Alliance – a coalition of opposition parties.
Senior MDC-T officials, who spoke to NewsDay, said moves were already in place to censure Khupe for absconding party meetings.
“She has chaired NSC meetings before and we gave her the necessary support, but we have realised that she does not want to support others,” an official said.
The development comes as rifts are getting wider within the MDC over Morgan Tsvangirai’s succession.
Tsvangirai is currently in South Africa for his routine check-up after he was diagnosed with cancer of the colon in 2016.
Due to ill-health, he has been in and out of the country on several occasions.
Observers say this has created a power vacuum in the MDC which operates a structure with three deputy presidents namely Khupe, Elias Mudzuri and Nelson Chamisa.
Despite being the most senior, Khupe feels sidelined by her boss who recently appointed Mudzuri as the acting MDC president, while Chamisa was assigned to represent the party at the MDC Alliance — a coalition of seven opposition parties.
This awkward arrangement appears to be the reason behind Khupe’s no show at party meetings chaired by Mudzuri.
But party spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News that those who were agitating for her expulsion would be left with egg on their face.
“Internal MDC party processes are not for the public domain. Acting president … Mudzuri is engaged with this matter and I can disclose to you that so far, a lot of progress has been made in resolving this issue. Anyone who is itching for VP Khupe’s expulsion from the MDC will be hugely disappointed,” said Gutu..
Efforts to get comment from Khupe were fruitless as her mobile phone was not reachable.
Khupe and her clique, comprising party chairperson Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe have crossed swords with Tsvangirai over the formation of the MDC Alliance to contest Zanu PF at the forthcoming polls.
The bone of contention has been the allocation of seats to the respective parties where Khupe and her group strongly feel that if the MDC wants to go into coalitions with other parties, it should only do so in some provinces where it has traditionally fared badly. The MDC faction linked to Khupe recently prepared a list of parliamentary candidates to contest in constituencies in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, disregarding the MDC Alliance agreement which reserves certain seats for other actors outside of Tsvangirai’s party.
Khupe will fight it out with Tshinga Dube (Zanu PF) in Makokoba constituency, while the MDC’s national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe will seek to retain his Nkayi North seat.
Their list excludes sitting Members of Parliament who are backing Tsvangirai’s efforts to contest the forthcoming polls under the MDC Alliance banner. These include Dingilizwe Tshuma (Emakhandeni), Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North) Dorcas Sibanda (Bulawayo Central) and Tabitha Khumalo (Bulawayo East). Also excluded from the list was Bulawayo provincial chair Gift Banda.
According to the seats distribution arrangement adopted by the MDC Alliance, the MDC led by Tsvangirai would get 114 out of the 210 seats to be contested. Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party, will get 14 seats while Welshman Ncube’s party will get 32 seats.
The Zimbabwe People First, under Agrippa Mutambara, has been allocated 30 seats with Transform Zimbabwe party led by Jacob Ngarivhume’s contesting in 19 seats.
The little-known Multi-Racial Christian Democrats will contest for one seat.