THE battle for control of the beleaguered opposition party MDC-T has moved from just a leadership wrangle to ownership of the party name with expelled party deputy president Dr Thokozani Khupe yesterday digging in and insisting that she was the genuine leader of the “real” MDC-T.
This follows an announcement by the party that it has fired Dr Khupe, national organising secretary Mr Abednigo Bhebhe and spokesman Mr Obert Gutu for “unconstitutional behaviour, holding illegal meetings and bringing the party’s name into disrepute.”
The decision was passed by the party’s national council, the supreme-decision making body in between congresses in Harare on Friday.
Dr Khupe yesterday indicated that she was going ahead with preparations for an extra-ordinary congress set to be held in April under the MDC-T banner where a substantial leader to replace the late Mr Morgan Tsvangirai would be elected. Speaking through her spokesperson, Mr Witness Dube, Dr Khupe said they had made it clear that they were breaking ranks with Advocate Chamisa and his group during a rally that was held last Sunday at Bulawayo’s Amphitheatre. Mr Dube downplayed the national council meeting as a non-event as they had long dissociated themselves from the Advocate Chamisa led faction.
“Chamisa is a poster boy of violating constitutionalism through violence, tribal and gender discrimination. He has no legal footing whatsoever to lead even his faction to expelling the constitutional acting president of MDC-T who has called for the party’s extra-ordinary congress set for April. In any case, Dr Khupe last Sunday dissociated herself from Chamisa and his lot in order to continue on the true path towards reaching the founding vision and values of the MDC-T,” said Mr Dube.
Contacted for comment, Mr Gutu who was also fired by the national council said what boggled his mind is that they had long disassociated themselves from the Advocate Chamisa-led grouping hence no one could claim to have fired them as they were not members of the grouping. He said they remain the legitimate MDC-T hence they were not moved by the purported expulsions.
“What happened on Friday is a joke that is not even funny, if we want to be entertained we would rather go to a proper circus, but theirs is a circus that does not provide entertainment, that is how cheap it is. How are we fired from an organisation which we are not part of?
“As you all know, we were in Bulawayo last Sunday, we had a very successful rally where we made it very clear and unambiguous that we are dissociating ourselves from an organisation that does not respect the constitution, driven by violence, intolerance and thuggery. We are the real, rightful and legitimate MDC-T that believes in constitutionalism. This is why we are working with our structures to arrange an extra-ordinary congress in April where we will be electing a legitimate president,” said Mr Gutu.
He further revealed that they were engaging other opposition parties to form what he termed; “a real, holistic and genuine grand coalition.”
However, the acting spokesperson for the Chamisa faction, Ms Thabitha Khumalo rubbished the sentiments by Dr Khupe and Mr Gutu saying they were dreaming if they thought they were still part of the MDC-T family.
She said they should stop misleading the nation and accept that they had been expelled from the opposition party owing to their gross misconduct.
“What congress are they talking about? Maybe they are talking of another political party which is not MDC-T because as far as we are concerned the supreme decision making body of the party made a decision to expel them and that will not change.
“I think if they are talking of a congress it could be of their own party or organisation, which maybe the people they perceive to have, advised them to hold that congress. As far as we are concerned they are no longer part of the MDC-T family,” said Ms Khumalo.
Dr Khupe has been involved in a vicious battle over the control of the MDC-T from the days leading to the death of party founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February and after his burial.
Despite Mr Chamisa’s endorsement by the MDC-T national executive as the party’s leader, Dr Khupe has refused to recognise him arguing that she was the rightful heir to the presidency on the basis that she is the only elected official among the late Tsvangirai’s deputies.
Before Mr Tsvangirai’s death, Dr Khupe, Mr Lovemore Moyo, who resigned on Thursday from the party as the national chairperson and Mr Bhebhe had fallen out with him over the formation of an alliance of opposition parties to challenge the ruling Zanu-PF in this year’s election.
Meanwhile, our Harare Bureau reports that Dr Khupe has officially notified the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) that she will represent MDC T in the 2018 Presidential election.
Referring to herself as MDC-T acting president, she said the party would also participate in local government and parliamentary polls.
Zec acting chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana confirmed to receipt of Dr Khupe’s notification.
On March 20, 2018, Dr Khupe wrote to Zec saying: “This letter serves to notify and inform you that the Movement for Democratic Change, under the leadership of Dr Thokozani Khupe, shall be contesting and participating in local, parliamentary and presidential elections as they may constitutionally occur.
“We, accordingly, request that you extend your invitation to participate in meetings and programmes for political parties which the commission periodically convenes.”