MDC Alliance vice president Ms Lynnette Karenyi-Kore and party national chairperson Ms Thabitha Khumalo reportedly almost came to blows at their leader Mr Nelson Chamisa’s office in Harare last week in a raging war over the post of leader of the opposition in Parliament.
Mr Chamisa, according to party insiders wants to replace Ms Khumalo as leader of the opposition with Ms Karenyi-Kore on the basis that she is the most senior MDC-A member in the Parliament.
The matter, according to insiders was discussed in a heated meeting of the national executive council (NEC) in Harare last week after which the two senior MDC Alliance officials reportedly almost came to blows. Ms Khumalo yesterday denied the reports of the near altercation.
“I can only refer you to the person who gave you that story to comment,” said Ms Khumalo before asking what the sources said was the cause of their fight.
After she was told, Ms Khumalo said:
“What I know is that I am the leader of the house as Chamisa clarified last week. I don’t understand why it is said I’m undermining her. I am chairperson of the party and according to our constitution, I can act as president in the absence of the president and his deputies so we are all equal.”
Ms Karenyi-Kore’s mobile phone was not available.
Sources said Mr Chamisa and one of his deputies Mr Tendai Biti managed to separate Ms Khumalo and Ms Karenyi-Kore just as they were about to go for each other’s throats.
“The issue has been going on for a long time and actually there is a resolution of the NEC that Khumalo steps down and pave way for Karenyi-Kore. It was raised again at the NEC last week and a fierce debate erupted until Chamisa ended it before inviting the two senior members to his office after the meeting,” said the source.
The source said at Mr Chamisa’s office, Ms Khumalo and Ms Karenyi-Kore traded accusations until things got heated to the point of a near altercation.
Ms Karenyi-Kore, sources said, accused Khumalo of disrespecting her as the chairperson’s senior while Ms Khumalo accused the opposition vice president of spreading falsehoods against her.
The MDC Alliance vice president reportedly went on to accuse Ms Khumalo of killing the party by fanning factionalism in the Bulawayo structures before all hell broke loose.
“We understand Biti was in the office also and had it not been for their intervention the two senior leaders would have traded blows. Chamisa pleaded with the two to resolve their matters like adults,” said the source.
The tiff between Ms Karenyi-Kore and Ms Khumalo goes back to the party’s national congress held in Gweru, Midlands province in May last year.
In the race for vice presidency Ms Khumalo was backing Mrs Lillian Timveous who lost to Karenyi-Kore for the post.
Insiders said Mr Chamisa was waiting for Ms Khumalo to be given a car as the leader of opposition in Parliament before announcing her replacement.
“The party is downplaying this matter but it is causing serious problems. The car will sort of serve as a package for Khumalo before she is replaced as leader of the opposition in the House,” said the source.
Two weeks ago, party members reportedly linked to Ms Khumalo dumped flyers at the MDC Alliance Bulawayo provincial offices and different parts of the central business district castigating Mr Chamisa for his decision to replace her with Ms Karenyi-Kore.
The distribution of the flyers was timed to coincide with Mr Chamisa’s visit to the city ahead of an address to party supporters.
Some of the flyers slamming Mr Chamisa seen by this paper accused him of using politicians from Matabeleland only to discard them later.