THE opposition MDC-T’s highest decision-making body outside congress, national council, has reportedly resolved to fire defiant party deputy president Thokozani Khupe this week following her decision to launch a parallel presidential campaign programme, NewsDay has learnt.
Khupe has also refused to recognise Nelson Chamisa’s appointment as substantive leader and 2018 presidential candidate.
Impeccable party sources told NewsDay yesterday that Khupe, who has defied the national council’s decision and “anointed” herself acting party leader, following the death of MDC-T founder Morgan Tsvangirai last month, would be axed this week.
MDC-T deputy treasurer-general Chalton Hwende also took to social media to confirm Khupe’s imminent expulsion from the main opposition party.
“The national council of the MDC-T has already made that decision. The president
(Chamisa) requested for time to seek dialogue with her, but clearly, that request has not yielded any results,” Hwende said.
“I expect the council decision to be implemented this week and our council will meet again on Friday to finalise these matters. We now want the president to concentrate on 2018 election campaign.”
Another party insider said Khupe would be expelled on Wednesday.
“We are aware of their plot to cause confusion, (but) national council will sit down on Wednesday to deal with this issue to finality. We are going to look into party chairman Lovemore Moyo, national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe and Khupe. They must go,” the source said.
The source said talks between Chamisa and Khupe had collapsed, after she refused to recognise the decisions made by the party’s national council.
MDC-T acting spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo said Khupe was acting illegally and unconstitutionally by declaring herself acting president.
“Our constitution is clear that one does not declare themselves at a rally or through letterheads that they are acting presidents or presidential candidates. She has to be declared by organs of the party, which are spelt out in the constitution. Her rallies are illegal and unconstitutional. We have one candidate declared by organs of the party, which candidate is Advocate Nelson Chamisa,” Khumalo said.
This came as Khupe has boycotted several MDC-T national council and national executive meetings held at the party’s headquarters in Harare, citing personal security concerns.
She has also scoffed at Chamisa’s overtures to meet her and resolve their differences.
Khupe has also lined up a series of parallel campaign rallies to drum up support for her presidential candidature at a time Chamisa, who is running on both MDC-T and MDC Alliance tickets, has upped his campaign in the country’s provinces.
Yesterday, both had rallies which ran concurrently, with Khupe addressing about 600 supporters in Bulawayo, while Chamisa’s rally filled Gweru’s Mkoba Stadium to the brim.
Besides the rallies, Khupe has met party structures and traditional leaders, mainly in the Matabeleland region, where she plans to close out Chamisa.
Khupe and her allies were yesterday adamant that she was standing as MDC-T presidential candidate alongside Chamisa.
The embattled party deputy leader confirmed the main opposition party’s split during a rally she addressed at the Amphitheatre when she told supporters that the rally marked the beginning of a new journey.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. We have just begun a new journey. I am not going to be intimidated nor am I going to be afraid because of the things that are happening. I am going to fight to the finish. I am going to walk with you every step until we arrive to our destination. I stand before you as the constitutionally and democratically-elected president of the MDC T,” Khupe told supporters.
“We have come a long way with our colleagues but they seem to have taken a different path, a path which is violent, unconstitutional, a path which discriminates against ethnicity and women. We will not be silenced by violence. We are still going to an extra-ordinary congress, which will elect the president of the MDC. I, hereby, urge all of us here to respect the outcome of the congress.”
Khupe’s remarks came after her top allies Bhebhe and suspended spokesperson Obert Gutu differed on uniting with colleagues in the MDC Alliance.
A source close to Khupe also said: “Khupe does not recognise Chamisa and besides, he is the presidential candidate of the MDC Alliance and not the MDC-T. So, technically, we can say
MDC-T will have two candidates.”
Gutu, who has stuck with Khupe, said: “An announcement will be made when the time comes, but we are not going to retreat and victory is certain.”
Khupe’s personal assistant, Witness Dube, at the weekend issued a statement on an MDC-T presidential letterhead announcing her rally at the Bulawayo Amphitheatre yesterday.
“Doctor Khupe wishes to advise all members and supporters to remain calm, resolute and focused to finishing strong (sic),” the statement said.
Khupe, in her campaign posters, had the hashtag “I am a dissident too” and carried Tsvangirai’s picture.
Chamisa, in his address, told thousands of MDC Alliance supporters that he would introduce a paradigm shift in governance once he takes over the reins of power in elections set for later this year.
“I want to assure you that starting in September, there is going to be a serious shift,” Chamisa said.
“As an alliance, we are going to make sure that any leader in government would declare assets before assuming office and that would be the governance culture. There is a leadership crisis in this country. It’s not even a crisis of cash. Cash is in abundance in people’s homes. It’s a crisis of confidence in the leadership. We need a new culture of peace and a new culture of articulating ideas. We want peace in Zimbabwe.”
Chamisa said his government would tackle economic governance issues, particularly the development of marginalised regions in the country.
He, however, accused the current government of perpetuating divisions by identifying people along tribal lines.
“Everyone should feel they are part of Zimbabwe, hence, our emphasis on devolution. Devolution is our next revolution in this country, hence the need for being inclusive. There is no need to look into regions in the context of tribalism to say one comes from Matabeleland or Mashonaland, yet we are all Zimbabweans. There is need for equitable distribution of the national cake.”
He said in pursuit of that vision, his government would transform various cities into hubs, with Gweru becoming the city of government, Harare will remain the country’s capital city and centre of business, Mutare (centre for processing and manufacturing), Masvingo (heritage), Bulawayo (industrial, innovation and technology hub), and Victoria Falls (services centre).
Chamisa said in the new dispensation, he would make sure that no government resources were used in carrying out party activities and people would not be forced to close business to attend rallies, while the Zimbabwe Republic Police would be transformed into a police service that respects people’s constitutional rights.
He said his government would not force traditional leaders to be political activists, but true custodians of culture.
“We want a republic that respects institutions. We want leadership that is courageous enough to apologise to people for economic mis-governance. We want to change from rulers to leaders,” the MDC-T leader said.
Chamisa said State security agents would be recognised for their professionalism, instead of being political party activists.
He said he would allow universities to choose their chancellors while he concentrates on political leadership.