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By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Former deputy prime minister Thokozani Khupe has scoffed at allegations that she is being used by Zanu PF to divide the opposition vote after resisting the creation of an alliance between MDC-T and other parties.
Khupe, who is involved in a bitter war for control of the MDC-T with the party’s new leader Nelson Chamisa, told The Standard in an exclusive interview that she was being persecuted for being a principled politician.
The former Makoboba MP is now leading a breakaway party and wants to run for the presidency in elections expected between July and August.
She lost her parliamentary seat last week after the MDC-T notified the National Assembly that she was no longer a member of the party.
Khupe is now trying to challenge her expulsion at the High Court and is also bracing for a legal battle for control of Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party.
“I am not a Zanu PF supporter and l have never been involved in those things,” she said when asked about allegations that her stance against the MDC Alliance was aiding the ruling party’s designs to remain in power.
“I stand guided by my loyalty to the MDC-T party and such allegations against me are not true.
“l am just being persecuted for speaking the truth.”
Khupe has been accused of frustrating previous efforts to reunify the MDC after it first split in 2005 because of personal differences with former Industry minister Welshman Ncube.
However, the former trade unionist does not see any reason for the reunification or alliances in Matabeleland, saying MDC-T was already strong in the region.
“Talking about reunification and alliances, the reason why in politics you look for an alliance partner is because you would have realised your deficit,” she said.
“We have always been winning [in Matabeleland] since 2000. So when the idea of an alliance came, l said to the [the late] president [Morgan Tsvangirai] this is a very brilliant idea because there is a place where we have not performed well and that’s where we need a partner.”
She said an opposition alliance could only be justified in Mashonaland provinces where the MDC-T had always fared badly against Zanu PF.
“We have been farming and repeating, but there is a land there where we haven’t harvested anything,” Khupe said.
“Let’s look for a partner who is going to farm and harvest, but we combine our harvest.
“My idea was that Mashonaland East, West and Central, we always got 400 to 500 votes.
“Even some of our members did not vote yet others were getting 20 000 votes.
“But look at Matabeleland South for instance, even if we had zero votes in other provinces, we almost doubled all the constituencies and we got 43%. “
Khupe said the trend since 2000 was that Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South and Harare were MDC-T strongholds.
“That is why the idea of a partner came, but l said to them you cannot come to a territory where l have always won and you replace me with an unknown person, who has always lost and has no structures and expects to win,” she said in apparent reference to Ncube, who leads the MDC and in is now a member of the MDC Alliance.
“That is why I said the formula you are using is a losing formula even though the idea is very good and l am suffering for that,” Khupe added.
She claimed Tsangirai, who died in February after battling cancer of the colon, had relented to her demands to review the MDC Alliance pact.
“The president before he went to South Africa on his last days said to me, you were right we must revisit this thing because I’ve realised that it’s causing confusion,” Khupe said.
“We were in the process of revisiting it to take the document to the national executive, to the national council and up to now that document has never been debated.
“I want an alliance partner who is going to add value to what I have, not somebody who is going to take away what l have and expect me to win. It doesn’t work like that.”
There is speculation that Khupe wants a pact with the People’s Rainbow Coalition led by former vice-president Joice Mujuru.