MDC-T president Dr Thokozani Khupe compounded Adv Nelson Chamisa’s legitimacy woes when she held a successful congress in Bulawayo last Saturday, which elected her leader of the opposition outfit, a senior party official said yesterday.
The remarks come as Dr Khupe is in the process of recalling from Parliament MDC-T officials aligned to Mr Chamisa.
She has written to Parliament recalling Mr Chamisa himself.
Mr Chamisa avoided congress when he was installed MDC-T president via the national council following the death in February of MDC-T founding leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the MDC-T official said it was wrong to measure Dr Khupe’s support by looking at congress attendance figures as this was not a star rally.
“Congress is not about numbers, but legitimacy,” said the senior politician in the MDC-T led by Mr Chamisa.
“This was not a star rally. That particular event was resolving the issue of legitimacy. It was a legitimacy issue, not a popularity test. Popularity is what follows after you have established yourself as a legitimate leader.
“You have one leader who ascends through delegated authority and his name is Nelson Chamisa. He went to the structures which have only representatives of the people and we have another leader who derives her mandate from the people themselves through congress which is the highest policy making body.”
The MDC-T politician said a national council exercises delegated authority in-between congress and “if you go to congress you have gone to the ultimate authority of the party to seek the mandate to lead. You can’t offset decisions of congress by decisions of a lower organ of the party”.
The politician said Dr Khupe had pulled the rug from underneath Chamisa’s feet.
“Instead of raising issues of electability, she has put on the map issues of legitimacy,” he said. “She has actually compounded the legitimacy problem for Chamisa.
“Initially, he (Chamisa) is appointed to vice president by our late leader Morgan Tsvangirai capriciously. Secondly, he resorts to a surrogate authority (national council) to install himself. He lost legitimacy by compound interest,” he said.
“Contrast that with Khupe. She is made vice president by congress at a time Chamisa was losing to Douglas Mwonzora for the secretary general’s post. She follows through, following the demise of Tsvangirai to convene a post-Tsvangirai congress to escalate her responsibilities to presidency.”
The politician said Mr Chamisa faced a legitimacy crisis “which will not be offset by choreographed rallies”.
“It is about the constitution, you go down in history as an upstart who stole the crown,” said the MDC-T official. “Upstart by age and position. You don’t buy legitimacy through numbers, but through following procedures as laid down in the constitution.”
The MDC-T also castigated Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda for reacting to a letter by Mr Chamisa recalling Dr Khupe from the House without “taking into account the fact that there is a pending case at the courts”.
“He didn’t take into account whose hand wrote the letter and he didn’t take into account dynamics within the party,” said the official.
“Now there is full blown contestation for leadership and ownership of the party. It is as if Parliament has taken a position in respect of an intra-party contest.”
Dr Khupe invited Mr Chamisa to the Bulawayo congress, but he did not attend. The MDC-T politician said Dr Khupe debunked the notion that she was a tribal politician when Mr Obert Gutu was nominated her deputy at the congress.
“By nominating Gutu, who was been speaking his neck out on constitutionalism, Khupe has debunked the myth that she is a tribal leader, but more importantly, she has picked from the geographical backyard of Chamisa,” he said.
“She has also framed Chamisa as an illegitimate leader who thrives on violence. He beat her up in Buhera and Bulawayo and sent Mthwakazi to disrupt her Congress. By so doing, whether advertently or inadvertently, Mthwakazi associated itself with the Chamisa way.
“Mthwakazi, to the extent that it represents separatist politics, it means that image problem is attaching to Chamisa and puts into better relief Thokozani because she is at odds with Mthwakazi. Mthwakazi and Chamisa are birds of the same feathers, but much worse, you read a sense of continuity between Tsvangirai and Chamisa’s politics,” he said.
He went on: “Tsvangirai was the one who started politics of violence against Khupe in MDC. Chamisa has inherited Tsvangirai’s politics from whom he pilfered the crown.
“Khupe has managed to sow a seed of suspicion, a sense of paranoia in Chamisa which can translate to witch hunt. You have Mwonzora the father who purports to go along with Chamisa, even historically he was closer to Gutu, who deploys himself through the daughter who is now an office holder in Khupe’s group.
“Yes, the daughter might be majority age, but we know better whose daughter she is. Faced with such a scenario, how do you then cultivate a relationship of trust? That is why you see Mwonzora now using coded language.”
The official said Mr Chamisa also denied himself the opportunity of assessing the damage from his fall out with Dr Khupe when he bussed supporters from as far as Harare to attend his Bulawayo rally recently.
“What is the cost price of the fall out?” said the MDC-T official. “He swapped reality for bandwagon effect. That was a cute propaganda performance, but it was a suicidal lie. The worst thing in politics is to believe your own lie.”
The MDC-T politician said Mr Chamisa should have seen no value in politicians like Professor Welshman Ncube.
“You can’t use a politically expended figure like Welshman Ncube to offset Thokozani Khupe,” he said. “Why would you trade Thokozani Khupe for a declined political product? You saw the figures, he is a serial loser that’s why he was to come back grovelling to MDC-T.”
The official said it was clear that Mr Tendai Biti and Prof Ncube were setting Mr Chamisa against President Mnangagwa in this year’s election fully knowing he was going to lose.
“You have Welshman, Tendai Biti, Mutambara game plan vis-a-vis 40-year old Chamisa,” he said. “It is to keep drumming the beat to his self-destruction the same way that the same characters beat the drum to make sure Tsvangirai was devoured by Zanu-PF so that he has no presence in Parliament.
“The clever way they have done it is to make him a presidential candidate, which means he is no longer in Kuwadzana where he was assured. He has a dilemma to become a leader of a constituency or to make a futile bid at national leadership,” he said.
“One makes him small and the other one makes him a failed national politician. But a failed politician in a jungle full of wolves who are waiting. Biti and Welshman came back when their bete noire Tsvangirai was still alive because they knew the man was dying.
“Their eyes were not on Tsvangirai, but they were on wrestling the elaborate infrastructure called MDC-T. You have Mudzuri eyeing the same, you have Chamisa riding the same, you have Biti and Welshman waiting in the wings and an outsider Mutambara hoping for the same.
“There is a silent but vicious war for a dead man’s political estate and the way to defeat each other is by urging Chamisa to self-destruct by pitting him against ED.”
The MDC-T politician said the real game was not now, but what followed the 2018 election results.
“They want to have a Chamisa who is defeated, licking his wounds without any footing because he can’t go back to Kuwadzana (constituency),” said the official. “The trouble is, once you become a presidential candidate you can’t go for lesser. If you do that you become a Simba Makoni. So, it means you have to keep trying, which means you have to keep failing. His age is going to be a disaster.
“If you look at their performance at the Kondo rally, Biti is priming himself as a statesman, talking national, thanks to his portfolio in GNU as Finance Minister. It gave him the connection with the world. He has a profile in European and American boardrooms which this young man doesn’t have.
“Chamisa was only an ICT Minister. Chamisa is now stereotyped as an immature, excitable young man who specialises in levity. He is a master of levity. In politics, you cannot shake off a stereotype. MDC is badly crying for a leader with gravitas.”
Meanwhile, Dr Khupe is looking at the possibility of forming an alliance with Dr Mujuru whose prologue was the meeting held last year ostensibly to galvanise women’s vote.
Yesterday, Mr Gutu said they believed in constitutionalism hence the convening of an extraordinary congress.
“From day one, we have always followed what the constitution says,” he said. “If you look at our party constitution, in particular Article 9, it will tell you the procedure we followed when we convened the extraordinary congress at Stanley Square in Bulawayo on Saturday,” he said.
“We were simply following the party constitution and we have always said we believe in constitutionalism, the rule of law and whatever we are doing is contained in that document. We have never deviated and we are pleased with the progress we are making and the tremendous support we are getting from Zimbabweans of all social classes and racial groups.”
Mr Gutu added: “We are at the moment busy working on our party manifesto as elections are a few months away. We have got a think-tank composed of eminent Zimbabweans who are working on that. We are also working on modalities for our candidates for parliamentary and local government elections.”
Mr Gutu confirmed that the Bulawayo congress endorsed a decision to recall Mr Chamisa from Parliament.
“In fact, we will soon be recalling more MPs for bringing the name of the party into disrepute,” he said.