HARARE – MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe is under attack from the Bulawayo province that criticises her continued opposition to Morgan Tsvangirai’s plan for an opposition alliance to take on Emmerson Mnangagwa in the key presidential election this year.
The MDC spokesperson for Bulawayo province Felix Mafa specifically takes on Khupe for continuing to oppose Tsvangirai’s move to join hands with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Tendai Biti; the MDC led by Welshman Ncube; Transform Zimbabwe headed by Jacob Ngarivhume; Zanu Ndonga headed by Denford Masiyarira; and the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats led by Mathias Guchutu.
Both Biti and Ncube are former secretaries-general of the main MDC formation led by Tsvangirai.
This comes as Tsvangirai will next week hold crisis meetings of his party’s top organs in a bid to crush dissent ahead of the crucial polls.
Tsvangirai, who has been in the opposition trenches for nearly two decades, is expected to read the riot act to those stirring up mayhem in the MDC when the national standing committee, the national executive and the national council hold their separate meetings in the capital next week.
While he may not mention them by name, his vitriol would be directed at his long-time deputy, Khupe, whose revulsion for the MDC Alliance formed in August last year is creating political ripples in the southern part of the country.
Khupe has been on record saying the MDC does not need an alliance to win an election in the three Matabeleland provinces, sentiments that have made her a force to reckon with among like-minded party faithful who include influential figures such as Lovemore Moyo (the party’s national chairperson) and Abednico Bhebhe, its national organising secretary.
A faction loyal to Khupe has angered Tsvangirai even more by pushing for a special congress aimed at retiring the MDC leader on health grounds.
Tsvangirai is therefore seen using the meetings to assert his authority and crush dissent, although he may not put his opponents under the guillotine for fear of weakening the MDC ahead of crucial polls.
Sibanda told the Daily News the Bulawayo province was strongly behind Tsvangirai and his entire standing committee, the national executive and the national council on the issue of the MDC Alliance.
“If there is anyone anti-alliance, he is a loner and soon shall realise the rationale of unity of purpose sooner than later,” Mafa said.
“We as Bulawayo MDC-T are behind our leadership and adhere religiously to all resolutions passed by the constituted National Council and other party organs for the advancement of nation and entire citizenry.
“It is an open secret that unity of political opposition parties is a welcome move. The establishment of the MDC Alliance was received by mixed views but ultimately the majority of party members from 12 internal and external provinces deliberated and resolved through the National Council to be part of the coalition by the name MDC Alliance.
“To any rational opposition formation in Zimbabwe, that was an advance Christmas present that is determined to dislodge Zanu PF from power.
“As a mass party, naturally there should be divergent views on a given subject. Yes it is a known open fact that some few individuals in leadership positions had different views about the process not principal unity of purpose hence MDC-T coined catchword ‘Big Tent’ philosophy where everyone was welcome into this Big Tent.”
Sibanda said Tsvangirai was given the mandate by the party to form a coalition with all opposition parties.
“The president, Tsvangirai, was charged with physical interaction with all structures across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe and was told by all structures to facilitate that unity among opposition political parties and civic society organisations and many other progressive related organisations,” Mafa said.
Political analysts said Tsvangirai must put the dispute to the people to bring finality to the matter.
“Tsvangirai should subject his lieutenants who oppose the opposition alliance to the sovereign structures of the party than the executive will,” academic and Zimbabwe Democracy Institute think-tank head Pedzisai Ruhanya said.
“Let them tell the ordinary members of the party why unity is wrong. Time is running out while tolerating tomfoolery behaviour by petty politicians.
“Who is telling them to oppose unity of opposition forces and why; where are they getting the instructions from; Tsvangirai must subject these politicians to the people.”
Political analyst Tamuka Chirimambowa concurred with Ruhanya, noting that there was apparent executive discord in the MDC.
“We understand that the MDC has planned an emergency executive meeting. The executive are an interested party and will discuss this from a point of interest and thus un-strategic for Tsvangirai to go that route.
“Tsvangirai should have an emergency meeting of structures and his executive to resolve the impasse. Tsvangirai needs to understand that only sovereign will and not executive will can resolve this impasse in the executive.
“The people need an alliance and as such Tsvangirai should go back to the structures the same way he did when he sought mandate to craft an opposition alliance. Zvimwe zvose makunakuna (Anything else outside going back to the structures is kids’ play),” the University of Johannesburg analyst said.
Governance and public policy expert Mfundo Mlilo said Tsvangirai must be allowed to contest in this year’s elections notwithstanding his health challenges.
“Infact, besides the fact that MT must be allowed to serve his full term, it would be fatal to change leadership at this moment. MT is the best foot forward.
“The leadership must work on unity as part of alliance building. This alliance building must be broadened to the Save Zimbabwe model that also includes some beyond political society entities,” the civil society leader said.
The departure of long ruling Zanu PF leader, Robert Mugabe in November last year has brought more misery for Tsvangirai than happiness.
“It has presented Tsvangirai’s internal enemies with new talking points as they are now calling on him to emulate Mugabe by stepping aside to allow for leadership renewal in his party.