By Nduduzo Tshuma
MDC-T president Mr Nelson Chamisa faces the Bulawayo test as he addresses a rally in the city today for the first time as party leader and that of the MDC Alliance.
The rally also comes after the recent resolution by the MDC-T national council to fire Dr Thokozani Khupe, who was deputy party president, along with her allies Mr Abednigo Bhebhe, who was the organising secretary, and Mr Obert Gutu, the party’s spokesperson.
Dr Khupe was locked in a succession battle with Mr Chamisa to replace the late MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February.
The party’s national council endorsed Mr Chamisa as Mr Tsvangirai’s successor, but Dr Khupe refused to recognise him arguing that she was the legitimate heir to the MDC-T presidency.
She was subsequently sacked from the party along with her allies over charges of holding unconstitutional meetings and dragging the name of MDC-T into disrepute.
Dr Khupe’s faction, however, insisted that they are the original MDC-T and had left the Mr Chamisa-led formation because of their “violent” nature.
There has been debate over the influence of Dr Khupe on the party’s Matabeleland structures with some saying that her expulsion saw her moving away with “her people,” a development likely to affect the Mr Chamisa-led party in the coming elections.
MDC-T acting spokesperson Ms Thabitha Khumalo said they were the legitimate MDC-T and were not concerned about proving any points against Dr Khupe.
“We are on a road show now rallying people to come and listen to the address on what we have to offer Zimbabweans. The rally is not to prove or disprove anything,” she said.
“We are not concerned about Khupe and her group. As far as we are concerned, they were expelled from MDC-T and whatever they do afterwards is their business. We are the real MDC-T and our objective tomorrow (today) is to address Zimbabweans on the future.”
The Dr Khupe-led faction pushed forward its extraordinary congress initially scheduled for tomorrow in Bulawayo to April 21 with her spokesperson and personal assistant Mr Witness Dube saying the postponement was forced by security considerations.
During the week, however, a “Spiritual Solidarity Tea” was held in Bulawayo by female politicians in solidarity with Dr Khupe.
Among the attendees were MDC legislator Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and People’s Democratic Party leader Ms Lucia Matibenga.
Dr Khupe, Mrs Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Ms Matibenga last week met female ambassadors including British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing sparking speculation that the three wanted to rally the support of the diplomats.
In her address during the solidarity tea, Mrs Misihairabwi-Mushonga was quoted as saying women were going to support each other in this year’s elections.
“It is high time we show men that we can do it in style and support each other. On election day, we are all going to be pantiless just in case that demon of not voting for a female candidate catches up with you while in the ballot box. You can always lift up your dress and remember that you are a woman,” she was quoted as saying.
“In our culture, if you do not like your son-in-law, on the day he comes for lobola negotiations, you lift up your dress to express yourself. As women, we are lifting up our dresses for men because they have exposed us to a level we cannot tolerate.”