Former MDC deputy president Thokozani Khupe’s recent split from the Nelson Chamisa-led party will not have serious ramifications on his presidential bid as she has no political capital, analysts have said.
In a development that long-suffering Zimbabweans fear will effectively derail the MDC’s campaign ahead of general elections set for not later than this August, Khupe broke ranks after refusing to recognise the party’s national council resolution to elevate Chamisa as president ahead of her following the death of its founding president Morgan Tsvangirai in February.
The succession fights that are now playing out in the courts have thrown MDC supporters who have been attending Chamisa’s rallies in their thousands in a state of confusion.
However, analysts canvassed by the Daily New on Sunday during the course of last week dismissed Khupe as a political “pretender” who has no capacity to derail Chamisa.
The analysts, however, were quick to warn that while she might not necessarily unsettle the Chamisa camp; her activities will be manipulated by Zanu PF in their rigging strategy.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition’s Gladys Hlatywayo described Khupe as a politician who lacks seriousness.
“Khupe does not appear to be a serious contender to the crown and I doubt if she will have much impact, judging from the outcome of her ‘congress’ and the quality of leadership it produced,” Hlatshwayo said. “Her trump card has been constitutionalism and yet she violated the party constitution by allowing certain individuals who were not members of the party to assume leadership positions and did not invite bona fide delegates among other issues.”
Khupe held her faction’s congress last weekend where Linda Masarira of pressure group, Tajamuka, was controversially elected spokesperson despite allegations that she was not an MDC member.
Hlatywayo, however, said it would have been ideal if Khupe and Chamisa buried their hatchet ahead of elections.
“Having said that, election is a game of numbers where every vote counts. It would have been good from this perspective for the opposition to remain united.
“It is sad that at best she will play the role of a spoiler and less likely to get seats in Parliament”.
On the other hand Maxwell Saungweme said the bumper crowds Chamisa is pulling at his rallies will make it difficult for Khupe to make an impact.
“Those crowds will not be affected by Khupe or her supposed congress,” Saungweme said adding, however, that the real issues lie on causing confusion to voters during the polling days if MDC Alliance and MDC are on the ballot paper.
“A supposed split of the MDC gives the junta the reason to cover up rigging. It’s clear Zanu PF won’t win a free and fair election against Chamisa. But the more fissures the MDC has the easier it is to rig without people raising too much dust. If anything the winner in the fallout in MDC is the Zanu PF junta”.
Another analyst Macdonald Lewanika described Khupe as a regional leader whose thrust will be to win seats in Matabeleland provinces hence “a lot depends on her ground game”.
Lewanika acknowledged that so far Khupe had been successful following her congress held in Bulawayo and “one would expect that if she and her outfit are to put up a fight, this is where they will do it.
“In the rest of the country, I think they will be some disruptive or nuisance value — their size and strategy so far suggests that they are unlikely to be contenders nationally but can be a potent disruptive force that without itself wining can also stop Chamisa from enjoying unfettered support amongst the MDC faithful and opposition supporters in general.”
The MDC is the most serious opposition Zanu PF has faced since independence in 1980. A year after its formation, the broad based party ran Zanu PF a close second in parliamentary elections in 2000, securing a political lock on Matabeleland and urban centres that it has managed to retain ever since.
This is the third MDC split since its formation in 1999 with the first one engineered by the then secretary-general Welshman Ncube coming in 2005 over whether or not the party should participate in that year’s Senatorial elections.
The party split again in 2014 but this time another former secretary-general Tendai Biti was leading it in the aftermath of an electoral defeat at former president Robert Mugabe’s hands in 2013.