The MDC-T’s extra-ordinary congress ended in the wee hours of Monday after a dramatic day of turmoil with Douglas Mwonzora being declared new party leader, taking over from Thokozani Khupe who pulled out of the contest accusing her ambitious rival of voter fraud.
Voting in the court-ordered congress was marred by violence and allegations of irregularities raised by Khupe, who eventually abandoned proceedings and announced a suspension of Mwonzora.
Khupe, with Morgen Komichi, another disgruntled contestant in tow, stormed out of voting and declared the congress “null and void”. She ordered polling to stop – in vain.
The two accused Mwonzora and his camp of using violence and a fake voters’ roll that disenfranchised their supporters.
Despite their protestations, voting continued into the night and culminated in Mwonzora winning with 883 votes against Khupe’s 118.
Elias Mudzuri polled 14 while Komichi got a paltry 9. Mudzuri also abandoned the congress shortly after Khupe and Komichi’s exit.
Mwonzora appeared conciliatory in his acceptance speech while pushing back against charges of voter fraud and embezzlement of party funds raised by Khupe.
“The three (Khupe, Komichi, and Mudzuri) are part of my leadership plans. I have respect for Khupe, she did a lot for this party and we should never forget,” Mwonzora said.
“This was not a fight; it was a contest… when everyone has sobered up, we will come together as a family.”
Despite Mwonzora’s optimism, Khupe signaled an all-out war that will likely be settled in the courts.
“As the acting president of the MDC-T, I have called off the extra-ordinary congress which was taking place at the HICC due to massive rigging,” Khupe told a news conference after abandoning proceedings.
“It is unacceptable, and with the powers vested in me, I have with immediate effect suspended Douglas Togarasei Mwonzora as the secretary-general of the party, he is not allowed to do anything.
“I am going to report to the National Executive that I have suspended him because he has put the party into disrepute with this massive rigging.
“First, he took Z$300,000 from the party coffers without anyone knowing, and we said ok. And then Z$6 million as we speak right now is missing. That is the money he used to rig this election and I can not allow this kind of a thing happening,” Khupe fumed.
But Mwonzora dismissed the allegations and promised an audit.