EXPELLED MDC-T deputy president, Thokozani Khupe and her allies have given up the fight for the party’s Bulawayo provincial offices and property, albeit temporarily, to focus on the upcoming elections, Southern Eye has learnt.
Khupe and substantive MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa’s followers recently clashed over control of the party’s offices, leaving many members nursing injuries and several others arrested.
A faction led by Khupe took control of the offices after the clashes, forcing provincial chairperson and Bulawayo deputy mayor, Gift Banda — a Chamisa ally — to approach the High Court for recourse.
The High Court ruled in Chamisa’s favour, and ordered Khupe and her allies to vacate the offices.
Khupe’s personal assistant and spokesperson, Witness Dube, told Southern Eye yesterday that the faction was not going to contest the ruling — for now — but was focusing on the upcoming congress and general elections.
“We won the 2008 elections without an office. The office does not vote, people do,” Dube said.
In 2008, the MDC led by Welshman Ncube seized control of the party offices following a split.
The MDC-T was then forced to rent properties in Bulawayo, before purchasing the current building.
“We will not spend time and resources in court battles when we are faced with an election to win. We have already made alternative arrangements. They can keep the office structures.”
Banda also confirmed to the Southern Eye that Khupe’s faction had vacated the party offices.
“They left after the court ruling,” Banda said, adding they were now conducting their operations without any disruptions.
Khupe, organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe and spokesperson, Obert Gutu were expelled from the MDC-T on Friday for defying a national council resolution endorsing Chamisa as president.
Khupe’s allies have dismissed the expulsions as null and void, and instead are organising an elective congress set for April that will ostensibly elect the former Deputy Prime Minister as substantive MDC-T leader.
Khupe has also notified the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that her faction will be contesting in the harmonised elections as the MDC-T, setting the stage for a bruising fight over the party name.
“We also expect to be allocated what is due to us under the Political Parties Finances Act. We expect that the government will do better by not discriminating against the MDC-T led by acting president Khupe,” Dube said.
He accused Chamisa of sabotaging efforts to reconcile the two warring leaders.
“Dr Khupe went to Chamisa’s chambers on February 13, hours before Tsvangirai died, to advise him on how they could build together. While she was concerned with building, Chamisa was hellbent on taking the party leadership seat regardless of the consequences,” he said.
Khupe said Chamisa refused to go for a congress, but instead sought her help in dealing with vice-president, Elias Mudzuri who was also eyeing the top post.
“He refused congress on the grounds that it will waste resources, his preoccupation was getting Khupe to support him in neutralising Mudzuri, who had also declared himself leader,” he said.
Dube alleged that during the meeting Chamisa treated Khupe with disdain, making her wait for over 35 minutes in the waiting area of his law chambers, while he was holed up in his own office.
Chamisa has, however, dismissed the allegations saying it was Khupe who had refused to work together with party organs to unseat Zanu PF.
Through his spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, Chamisa said he held a five-hour meeting with Khupe on March 10, in an effort to resolve the outstanding conflict in the party.
“President Chamisa met Khupe on March 9 before the Dete rally, they agreed to have a meeting the following day which they had, these meetings lasted into the early hours of the morning and after that meeting Khupe said she needed time to think about it.
“From then on she has not been answering calls from the president, thereby stretching the patience of the party organs which had mandated president Chamisa to seek a resolution with her,” he said.
Insiders said Khupe refused to negotiate with Chamisa as long as he claimed to be party president and recognise resolutions by the national council, saying it was bogus.