By Shami Makombe
FORMER deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe has declared her suspension from the MDC-T as null and void and announced that Douglas Mwonzora was in fact no longer the party president.
This comes as infighting tears the opposition party two months before its congress in early March, and a few days before its candidates go for the nomination court next Wednesday.
The dramatic counter-firing comes hours after MDC-T spokesperson Witness Dube announced the party had suspended Khupe after various allegations were levelled against her.
In a statement issued on Thursday, party spokesperson Witness Dube said the suspension was with immediate effect pending internal investigations.
Insiders say preliminary indications were that Khupe is forming a breakaway group. But online publication Bulawayo24 has reported that Khupe’s lawyer Nqobani Sithole told the media that the suspension of Khupe from the party is null and void because Mwonzora is no longer the party President and does not have the power of acting the way he did.
Sithole says Mwonzora, who wrote to Khupe on January 12 suspending her, expelled himself from the party by declaring himself the leader of MDC Alliance recently. Mwonzora wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declaring himself the pact’s president in an apparent bid to block rival contender Nelson Chamisa from proceeding with the MDC Alliance brand.
However, that decision might come back to haunt him as Khupe’s camp is using that to nail Mwonzora.
Sources close to Khupe told HourlyHits that the former trade unionist is adamant that she is being victimized as a way by Mwonzora to avoid contesting her in the party’s congress set for March.
Khupe has since called a press conference for Friday where she is expected to announce her breakaway faction. In her invitation to media, Khupe curiously said she was holding an MDC-T press statement but did not indicate under what capacity was she calling the presser.
The opposition MDC has been plagued by splits since its formation just before the turn of the millennium.
In 2005, Welshman Ncube, David Coltart and several mainly Matebeleland politicians broke away citing dictatorial tendencies by founder President Morgan Tsvangirai.
In 2007, Job Sikhala broke away saying the party had diverted from the original 1999 ideology. He called his formation MDC99 and returned to the main MDC almost ten years later.
In 2014, following the MDC’s huge defeat to Zanu PF a year earlier, then party Secretary-General Tendai Biti split away and took with him party assets, Treasury funding and some vehicles and elected officials. He returned to the main fold just over two years later.
When Nelson Chamisa controversially succeeded Tsvangirai in February 2018, Khupe broke away, only to be rejoined by Mwonzora and others when the Supreme Court judgement of March 2020 declared Chamisa’s ascension as against the party’s constitution.