Long-serving MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe’s association with the party is effectively and officially over, after she was recalled from Parliament yesterday.
Khupe and two other former top MDC officials, national spokesperson Obert Gutu and organising secretary Abednigo Bhebhe, were also fired from the party last month — as the political movement’s bigwigs squabbled over power after its popular leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, passed away in February.
Before that, Khupe — who stood accused of playing truant — had been given an extended deadline to end her wrangle with new party president Nelson Chamisa, whom she refused to accept as the bona fide successor to Tsvangirai.
The firing of Khupe, Gutu and Bhebhe from the party also followed the surprising resignation of former chairperson Lovemore Moyo over the leadership quarrels.
Acting Speaker of the National Assembly Ruben Marumahoko announced yesterday that the MDC had recalled Khupe from Parliament, where she had almost become a permanent fixture since the party was formed nearly two decades ago.
Citing section 129 (1) (k) of the national Constitution, Marumahoko said all that was needed for him to declare a seat vacant was notification from the concerned party.
“She ceased to be a member of MDC and therefore she no longer represents the interests of the party,” he said.
Section 129 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe says: “A seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the member has ceased to belong to it”.
Marumahoko said that administrative processes regarding the notification of the vacancy to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) would be executed soon.
Chamisa has also, meanwhile, received a ringing endorsement from the MDC Alliance which has said he will be its sole presidential candidate, and will thus square off against Mnangagwa in this year’s presidential elections which are due in less than four months’ time.
The watershed polls will be the first in the past two decades not to feature 94-year-old former president Robert Mugabe and the late Tsvangirai.
The MDC is in an alliance which includes Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Jacob Ngarivhume’s Transform Zimbabwe, Zanu Ndonga headed by Denford Masiyarira, and the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats which is led by Mathias Guchutu.
In the meantime, the battle between Chamisa and Khupe has also spilled into the High Court, where the two are clashing over the ownership of the party’s name and symbols.
In an application filed before the Bulawayo High Court, the MDC led by Chamisa is the applicant — while Khupe, Gutu and Bhebhe are cited as respondents.
Chamisa is arguing that he is the legitimate leader of the MDC and is accusing Khupe and company of infringing on the MDC trademark. He also says Khupe, Gutu and Bhebhe were sacked from the party and thus have no authority to claim ownership of the party.