EXPELLED MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe was yesterday elected unopposed as the leader of a breakaway MDC-T formation, and the ex-deputy prime minister quickly said she did not regret cutting ties with her former colleagues in the opposition party formed in 1999.
The Khupe-led MDC-T held an extraordinary congress at Stanley Square, Makokoba in Bulawayo, where a new leadership was elected, the party’s constitution amended and the symbol changed.
The congress was held under the theme Building A New Zimbabwe Anchored On Constitutionalism, The Rule of Law, Tolerance, Love, Peace and Solidarity.
Khupe and MDC-T leader Nelson Chamisa are locked in a High Court battle over the use of the party name and logo following a recent split triggered by a leadership dispute over who was supposed to be the party leader after the passing-away of Morgan Tsvangirai in February.
Chamisa grabbed the presidency after his endorsement by the MDC-T national council, but Khupe dismissed his appointment as unconstitutional, and claimed she was the leader on grounds she was the only elected vice president.
“Let me state categorically, that we make no apology about calling to order those of our comrades who have hijacked our party to further their goals and political expediency at the expense of the general populace who make this movement for democratic change such a glorious organisation to call home,” Khupe said in her acceptance speech.
“Constitutionalism is the blood of the party, democracy is the bones that it stands on, and our values are the flesh to this body we call MDC-T.
“This congress is, therefore, a clarion call to us to embrace constitutionalism and democratic principles.”
The congress was attended by representatives of the People’s Rainbow Coalition — a coalition of opposition parties such as the National People’s Party and the People’s Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, incoming secretary-general Nixon Nyakadzino confirmed the congress resolved to remove Morgan Tsvangirai's face from the MDC-T logo, and replaced it with a baby face.
"It's not the party symbol that has changed. It still remains an open palm, which is of the MDC-T and what we have done is having our former president being the deceased," he said.
"We felt that since we are now going for another election, we cannot be seen as if we want to go and vote for the deceased."
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Francis Bere last week reserved judgement in a case in which the Chamisa-led MDC-T is suing Khupe and her allies over the use of the party name and logo.
Nyikadzino added: "The other resolutions that emerged today were constitutional proposals in terms of amending the party constitution.
"In that regard, we were trying to go back to the founding principles of the party when it started when it had only one vice-president, when the party could make certain decisions at congress rather than at national council level."
Nyikadzino is deputised by academic Samukele Hadebe.
Former MDC-T organising-secretary Abednico Bhebhe is now the chairperson, Obert Gutu is Khupe's deputy, activist Yvonne Musarurwa is the organising-secretary, the treasurer-general is Chief Ndlovu and Linda Masarira is the spokesperson.
Activist Fungai Masaiti is the youth assembly chairperson and Dorothy Ndlovu is the women's chairperson.
– The Standard