FACTION-RIDDEN opposition party MDC-T has all but officially split after it has emerged that defiant deputy president Dr Thokozani Khupe and her backers have compiled a list of candidates who will represent her faction in most constituencies in the Matabeleland region in the upcoming elections.
The move by Dr Khupe, officially confirms that she has broken ranks with party leader Advocate Chamisa, who on the other hand is still to officially agree on how he will share seats with his MDC Alliance partners.
From the start, the issue of sharing seats among the alliance partners has been the sticking point and even before the late leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai died, Dr Khupe was never in support of letting some of the alliance partners grab seats that are already under MDC-T.
Sunday News understands that Dr Khupe, in coming up with the list and in trying to lure candidates, has gone around telling sitting MPs that their seats would be grabbed by alliance partners hence they needed to back her in resisting the alliance and Adv Chamisa leadership.
Sensing the danger being posed by Adv Chamisa who has been in a campaign trail for the past two weeks, Dr Khupe and her supporters have also embarked on campaigns and yesterday addressed a rally in Gwelutshena, Nkayi North constituency, Matabeleland North. Adv Chamisa was also addressing a rally in the same province at Cross Dete.
Dr Khupe is being supported by party chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo, organising secretary Mr Abednigo Bhebhe and party spokesman Mr Obert Gutu among other senior officials.
Contacted for comment on the issue of list, Mr Bhebhe was tight lipped only saying; “If you want an interview I am not giving any interviews, we can talk about anything else but no interviews.”
However, highly placed sources said Dr Khupe has virtually conceded that she has to go it alone and dump manoeuvres by Adv Chamisa’s camp to coerce her to accept him as the leader of the party. The sources revealed that the faction has support from some serving Members of Parliament and councillors especially those fearing to lose their seats to the alliance partners.
“What these people did was when they were distributing seats in the coalition deal they gave away seats of people who are already MPs and councillors, which we have always insisted that it is not fair, which is why we will go ahead to endorse those very MPs and councillors to represent us.
“The Gwelutshena rally is a start of a number of rallies in the region where Dr Khupe and Mr Bhebhe will be leading a team to clarify to people on what is really happening within the party. We are happy that the rally was a huge success judging by the people who attended, very soon we will be moving to Bulawayo and I tell you a lot of people will be surprised,” said the source.
However, efforts to get some of the people on the list was fruitless as sources said it was still to be finalised and released pending further consultations.
Speaking during a Press conference last Thursday, the party’s provincial chairperson, and Bulawayo deputy mayor, Councillor Gift Banda said they were starting their elections roadmap, with the party’s national executive giving them a template they were meant to adhere to as they select candidates to represent the party in the constituencies they were going to contest in.
The provincial executive led by Clr Banda has come out in the open supporting Adv Chamisa.
“When the unfortunate violence broke out in our offices we were actually meant to meet with our structures to present the template as we go forward with preparations for the upcoming elections. It is unfortunate that the meeting did not take place but we are surely going ahead,” said Clr Banda.
Questioned on whether they were not worried that the confusion within the party would prove costly for them in the harmonised elections, Clr Banda said they were not worried at all as they believed the public could see through the confusion and could tell which was the faction to support.
“We believe we are still the biggest party and we won’t be deterred by a few individuals, the truth is that people know what is really happening,” said Clr Banda.
The MDC Alliance is made up of MDC-T, Transform Zimbabwe, Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Zimbabwe People First, the Multi-Racial Christian Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Party, and Zanu Ndonga.
The party has a long history of splitting each time members disagree. MDC first split on 12 October 2005 in the wake of severe differences over participation in Senate elections.