MDC-T deputy president Ms Thokozani Khupe is reportedly fuming after party president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday effectively diluted her power and influence in the beleaguered party by appointing two more deputy presidents, bringing the number of the party’s second-in-command to three.
Mr Tsvangirai pulled the shocker, when he appointed Mr Nelson Chamisa and Engineer Elias Mudzuri as two additional vice-presidents to Ms Khupe, the first time a president of a local political party has had three deputies.
Ms Khupe who is rumoured to be leading a faction within the party is said to have been irked by the appointments, especially that of Mr Chamisa who is also accused of leading a faction which allegedly has the likes of the deputy national spokesperson, Ms Thabitha Khumalo, Bulawayo Central legislator Ms Dorcas Sibanda and fired former senator Matson Hlalo.
The four (Mr Chamisa, Ms Khumalo, Ms Sibanda and Mr Hlalo) are also reportedly linked to a group within the party, the MDC Veteran Activists Association (VAA), that has constantly been opposed to Ms Khupe’s leadership and influence within Matabeleland.
So intense and apparent were the factional fights that they were telling at the party’s “beat the pots” demonstration that was held in Bulawayo yesterday. Ms Khupe was the only senior official who attended the march with Ms Khumalo and Ms Sibanda conspicuous with their absence.
Questioned on her reaction to Mr Tsvangirai’s appointments, Ms Khupe said her boss was the only one who could comment on the matter. “Any questions regarding the recent appointments of the two deputy presidents please talk to Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai,” retorted Ms Khupe.
Ironically the party’s national spokesperson, Mr Obert Gutu on Friday also posted on social media saying he was not taking any questions pertaining to the recent appointments.
“As the MDC-T national spokesperson, kindly be advised that I have absolutely no comment on the appointments for the office of vice-president that were announced at a Press conference in Harare on Friday, July 15 2016. I refer all questions and/or queries to president Morgan Tsvangirai,” read Mr Gutu’s post on his Facebook account.
Impeccable party sources have revealed that while party members aligned to Mr Chamisa were celebrating, Ms Khupe’s faction felt let down and a number of caucus meetings were being convened to discuss the development.The first was convened on Friday and the other yesterday.
“Members feel that this is a direct ploy to weaken Ms Khupe who is believed to be pushing to replace Mr Tsvangirai ahead of the 2018 elections as the party’s president. On Saturday (yesterday) I know there was a caucus in Bulawayo where the issue was discussed at length but nothing can be done now as the president’s decision is final.
“We also understand that neither Ms Khupe nor any of the party’s senior leadership was consulted in the run-up to the latest appointments, it was a decision only known by himself (Tsvangirai), Chamisa and Mudzuri. Ever since the appointment he hasn’t even contacted Ms Khupe to discuss the matter,” said the source.
The source further revealed that there were now fears that Ms Khupe would soon be stripped of her position as Mr Chamisa positions himself to take over the party leadership.
“Even if you saw the beat the pots campaign, some senior members in the province did not bother attending, which explains the low numbers of members who attended. The campaign has been labelled a ‘MaKhupe campaign’ hence the move to boycott and expose Ms Khupe,” said the source.
About 500 MDC-T members took part in the beat the pots campaign yesterday out of the touted 6 000. Mr Chamisa lost to Mr Douglas Mwonzora in the race for the party’s secretary-general post during their 2014 congress despite the former going into the election as a clear favourite having secured more nominations from provinces. It was reported then, that Mr Chamisa had fallen from grace after the Khupe-led faction had convinced Mr Tsvangirai that the lawyer wanted to topple him. – Bulawayo24