THE much-hyped crunch meeting between MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, to mend their rift over participation in the MDC Alliance reportedly got off to a false start yesterday, as the opposition leaders could not agree on a venue for the meeting.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Tsvangirai was supposed to meet Khupe and party chairman Lovemore Moyo to patch up their differences emanating from the party’s involvement and distribution of seats in the coalition deal with other opposition parties.
The MDC-T leaders’ meeting was initially supposed to take place on neutral territory after Khupe said she was uncomfortable with meeting at the party’s headquarters, Harvest House, or any venue in Harare, for fear of being attacked by Tsvangirai’s aides.
She then proposed either Mutare or Kadoma before they settled for Chegutu with Tsvangirai’s team saying their leader could not travel to the other proposed venues.
Yesterday, the officials reportedly agreed to meet at Tsvangirai’s Highlands home, but it was aborted after Khupe and Moyo allegedly shifted goalposts, again citing security concerns.
“Khupe and Moyo refused to meet Tsvangirai at his residence at the last minute, but the door has not yet been closed, negotiations are going on so that they meet and iron out the issues,” a source said.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu declined to comment on the matter, saying talks between Tsvangirai and Khupe were an internal matter.
“These are internal processes. Who the president meets and what is going on is internal and if there is anything that needs to be announced, the Press will be the first to know,” he said.
“Negotiations are going on and we are still hopeful that the issues will be resolved.”
Khupe also refused to comment, saying she was not talking to the Press for the time being.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, said: “Khupe is one of president Tsvangirai’s deputies and their meeting can’t certainly be a reason for such media excitement.
“I will play no part in this contrived media drama around this meeting and I will allow those of you in the Press to drool about it (sic).”
But party insiders said it could be difficult for Khupe and Tsvangirai to find each other, given that both camps were digging in on their positions.
Khupe, Moyo and suspended MDC-T national organiser Abednico Bhebhe recently boycotted the MDC Alliance launch in Harare and Bulawayo, accusing Tsvangirai of unilateralism.
After boycotting the Harare launch, the three MDC-T officials were reportedly assaulted by party youths believed to have been sent from Tsvangirai’s office.
Tsvangirai’s allies blamed Khupe for stonewalling on an alliance with Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni and MDC leader Welshman Ncube in 2008, which eventually cost the party an outright victory against President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai won the first round of the election, but failed to capture the majority vote after Makoni, backed by Ncube, won a crucial 8% of the vote, giving Mugabe a lifeline in the presidential runoff.
“We came out of Harvest House at 3am with the pact collapsing after the same people refused to give Ncube’s party just three seats in Matabeleland, and we failed to dislodge Zanu PF because they refused with three seats, this time we are not budging,” a highly-placed source said.
The source added Khupe and her team were fighting for power at Harvest House instead of turning their guns on Munhumutapa Building, the seat of government.