The MDC-T’s power struggle took a turn for the worst Sunday after vice president Thokozani Khupe announced that she would be joining former vice president Joice Mujuru’s Rainbow Coalition.
Khupe told a sizeable crowd at a rally held at Bulawayo Amphitheatre that her camp was breaking away from rival and controversial new MDC-T leader Nelson Chamisa-led group but would retain the opposition party’s name.
She addressed her supporters, at the same time Chamisa was holding a campaign rally in the Midlands capital of Gweru.
This sets the stage for a likely legal battle for the MDC-T name and logo at a time the two factions are already at each other’s throats over funds from the Political Parties Finance Act.
Other parties that make up the Rainbow Coalition include Zapu, Democratic Assembly for Reform and Empowerment (Dare) among others.
“We have come a long way with our colleagues. However, they seem to have taken a different path. A path which is against and does not respect the constitution,” said Khupe on Sunday.
“A path which does not respect democracy, a path which is violent, a path which discriminates on basis of ethnicity and a path which discriminates against women, who by the way are a majority, 54 percent of the voting population.”
Chamisa wrestled control of the MDC-T hours after founding president Morgan Tsvangirai passed away in South Africa and went about consolidating his position at the helm.
Khupe was accosted by rogue party youths at Tsvangirai’s funeral in Buhera before violence broke out again in Bulawayo at the end of February leading to bloody scenes.
However, the defiant former deputy prime minister, who insists that she should be legitimate successor to Tsvangirai, said she would not be intimidated.
“We will not stand with those who have opted to use violence, defy the constitution, discriminate, and go against the core values of the MDC,” she said.
“With a clear conscience, we are parting from these actions and we will continue to pursue the democratic project of taking the people of Zimbabwe to the promised lands.”
Khupe argued that her group is the legitimate MDC-T and would seek alliances with “like-minded political formations”, effectively signalling a split in the MDC-T at a time when Chamisa is fronting the MDC Alliance group ahead of elections later this year.
“In this respect, we shall also pursue the formation of a holistic, viable and broad based grand coalition, of all progressive democratic political forces that will face Zanu PF in the forthcoming harmonised elections.
“Today we boldly declare that we are the MDC-T and always shall remain the MDC-T.”
She was accompanied by party spokesperson Obert Gutu and organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe.
“The fact that we are meeting here, and others are in Gweru is a clear sign that all is not well in the party. I want to say, if we are to work together, it is important that we put democracy and constitutionalism first,” said Bhebhe.
“Our differences can only be solved if feuding parties adhere to the party’s constitution. There is a problem in the party if we are to allow other people to beat each other over differing views.”
Gutu added; “We are drawing the line in the sand to say we are not going to be forced to associate with characters that are violent.
“We do not want to have a Zanu PF habit of beating and killing each other whenever there is a dispute, and this is why we are saying if we do not follow the constitution, we risk being another version of Zanu PF.”
The Bulawayo meeting was also attended by several leaders and supporters from Matebeleland based opposition parties such as Alliance for National Salvation, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) and the National People’s Party (NPP).