MDC-T deputy president, Thokozani Khupe has reportedly agreed to meet her arch rival and party leader, Nelson Chamisa, to iron out their differences “for the betterment of the party” following an acrimonious fallout that threatened yet another split.
This comes a day after Chamisa, who is also MDC Alliance presidential candidate, told supporters at a campaign rally in Dete on Saturday that he was planning to knock on Khupe’s door in Bulawayo yesterday so that they could find each other ahead of this year’s general elections.
Khupe’s personal assistant, Witness Dube, confirmed the development yesterday, although he was skirt on details.
“Dr Khupe is a principled person, she does not believe in talks being held in the media and so, whatever is being discussed and worked upon, she believes it must be done in truth and honesty. Whatever talks that are being held, she expects that this must not be done in the media, hence, she will not say any word regarding that. She expects the same from fellow leaders,” Dube said, dismissing speculation linking her boss to the newly-formed National Patriotic Front (NPF).
Of late, Khupe had been linked to the Ambrose Mutinhiri-led NPF amid speculation that she had also privately met with former President Robert Mugabe to form a formidable force against Zanu PF presidential candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“That is rubbish. I know fiction writing when I read it, that is what you are talking about. If you read throughout the story, you will be ashamed to be called a journalist with such fiction writers. It is hogwash. If you believe anything there, you can as well believe that the devil is in heaven. It’s rubbish,” she said through her aide.
The fallout between Khupe and Chamisa revolves around the party leadership and the MDC-T’s involvement in the MDC Alliance — a loose coalition of seven opposition parties.
Khupe insists she is legitimately entitled to take over as party leader following their death of leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but Chamisa has stood his ground saying his recent endorsement by the national council and national executive suffices.
She has also refused to recognise the MDC Alliance, arguing that the MDC-T does not require alliances in Matabeleland region where it commands majority rule. Khupe’s anti-alliance stance has thrown her on a collision course with most senior party officials, exposing her to a butt of verbal and physical assaults before and after Tsvangirai’s death.
The row degenerated into violent clashes at Tsvangirai’s funeral and also last weekend at the party’s Bulawayo offices, as Khupe and her allies tried to hold a meeting. This came hard on the heels of an MDC-T national council’s seven-day ultimatum for Khupe and her allies to return to the fold or face expulsion.
The deadline elapsed last week, as Khupe and her allies defiantly stood their ground, and boycotted Chamisa’s rally in Matabeleland North province on Saturday.
She is backed by national chairman, Lovemore Moyo and national organising secretary, Abedinico Bhebhe and the now suspended national spokesman, Obert Gutu, among other senior party officials.
In his campaign speech, Chamisa said he was still prepared to engage them to resolve the dispute.
“It is important that all our parties should be united. I am aware that vice president Khupe is not here. She has got her complaints. We are now aware of her complaints. Madam Khupe and other leaders were given a position by the national council but the time for talks has elapsed,” he said.
“If you are a visionary leader, you should not promote divisions. If you are a visionary, go and try again to talk with her. So, I am taking my opportunity to be in Bulawayo to go to Khupe ‘s house tomorrow and knock at her door so that we can engage each other.”
Besides Khupe, Chamisa last month also faced a similar leadership challenge from deputy president, Elias Mudzuri, whom he later won to his side shortly before Tsvangirai’s burial in Buhera.