MDC-T interim leader Thokozani Khupe has ordered that there will be no gap filling to the party’s 2014 structures ahead of the party extraordinary congress to block his secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora from accommodating his backers.
Khupe and Mwonzora will battle for the party’s presidency next weekend alongside interim chairman Morgen Komichi and his deputy, Elias Mudzuri.
Mwonzora and Khupe seem to be the most popular and are set for a bruising fight as the congress dates draw near, but party insiders accused the secretary general of trying to manipulate the 2014 structures and rope in his loyalists to form the Electoral College and increase his votes.
The plot, which was thickening until Wednesday when it was put to a halt by a caucus meeting, had caused tensions within the party.
Mwonzora had reportedly ordered a gap filling to the 2014 structures in Chitungwiza, Harare, Mashonaland East Mashonaland Central and Manicaland where most of the chairman and organisers had openly showed him support.
“Mashonaland West was ordered last weekend by Mwonzora to conduct gap filling,” a party insider said.
“Some chairman and organisers loyal to Mwonzora who include Piniel Denga (Mashonaland East chairman), Rhino Mashaya (Organiser for Harare) among others, had remained adamant and wanted to do the gap filling.”
But sensing danger, Khupe reportedly ordered that there will be no gap filling and threatened to suspend provinces that conduct the exercise.
But Khupe has managed to block Mwonzora.
“This memo serves to advise all provinces that the national secretary for elections is now in the process of compiling the first Electoral College which is going to be validated by the relevant party structures and organs,” read part of a notice by Tapiwa Mashakada, the acting party spokesperson.
The memo was released after the caucus meeting.
“Linked to the process, please be advised that No GAP filling or replacements should be done. For the avoidance of doubt, those delegates who have left, died, resigned or joined other political parties shall not be replaced. Please be guided accordingly.”
Khupe was not picking calls yesterday, but Mwonzora denied he was plotting to ambush his opponents. He accused his opponents of being jittery after sensing defeat.
He said he had a successful launch of his presidential campaign which was oversubscribed with delegates from Harare and Chitungwiza showing who their choice was, adding “this was frightening to my opponents who have resorted to spreading falsehoods and creating an explanation of their impending loss.”
“This is the work of people who are developing butterflies about this election,” Mwonzora said.
“They are afraid of losing because the members of the MDC-T have already shown their voting patterns. The Electoral College to be used by congress is going to be tabled before the national standing committee on Tuesday.
“It is at that point that the leaders will be able to analyse it. Further, after we have finalised the Electoral College on Tuesday, we will send it back to the districts for further verification. Thereafter, the Electoral College will be put in the hands of the independent electoral commission.”
He added: “The allegations against me are part of the cheap smear campaign by opponents, I urge all my opponents to accept the democratic processes.
Mwonzora said the secretary general does not prepare the Electoral College, but keeps records.