HARARE – Talks to reunite the feuding MDC-T factions have virtually collapsed with the Thokozani Khupe-led formation saying it will not go to bed with a political outfit that is full of gangsters and is about to enter into an electoral pact with former president Robert Mugabe.
The MDC was plunged into a bitter power struggle after the death of MDC founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, on February 14 this year, which saw the party’s three deputies, Khupe, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri all clamouring to take over the reins.
In the end, Chamisa triumphed, while Mudzuri grudgingly accepted defeat.
Khupe went on to hold a congress where she was elected leader of her faction while Obert Gutu, who was the spokesperson of the united MDC-T formation, became her vice president.
Yesterday, Gutu told the Daily News that they have turned down overtures from their erstwhile comrades in the Chamisa-led camp.
“We are a principled and focused political party that is led by . . . Khupe. We abhor violence, intimidation, tribalism, sexism and indeed, all forms of discrimination. We know that our erstwhile colleagues are anything but sincere and honest. Yes, they have used some highly-placed emissaries to get in touch with us seeking a re-unification,” said Gutu.
The former MDC-T spokesperson added that the Chamisa-led camp was untrustworthy.
“What we know for certain is that our former colleagues cannot be trusted. In the past, they have exhibited shocking levels of intolerance, hatred, malice and vindictiveness. We have got absolutely no appetite to re-unite with people who are neither honest nor sincere,” he said, adding that there was no motivation for them to get into bed with their former colleagues.
“We are not desperate at all. Our party is growing in leaps and bounds and we are perfectly happy with the trajectory that we have taken. Anyone who writes us off as a non-factor in Zimbabwean politics will be utterly shocked when the election results are announced. There’s a snowball’s chance in hell of us re-uniting with people who cannot be trusted. In fact, it is only when human life is found to exist on planet Jupiter that we will re-unite with those people,” said Gutu.
Despite Gutu’s bullish sentiments about his party’s electoral prospects, recent opinion polls have given Khupe and her party less than one percent of the total vote, with Zanu PF strongman President Emmerson Mnangagwa in pole position, closely followed by Chamisa.
According to the Mass Public Opinion Institute and Afrobarometer, the race for the presidency will be between Chamisa and Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa, according to the poll, will get 42 percent of the vote while Chamisa is projected to garner 31 percent — something that entails a presidential run-off under the country’s Constitution.
The secretary-general of the Chamisa-led MDC-T, Douglas Mwonzora, also confirmed that attempts to build bridges with Khupe had collapsed.
“There have been spirited attempts to reunite the two parties to resolve the impasse involving Khupe and her group but unfortunately we have not succeeded. The major sticking points are about the leadership and nothing else,” said Mwonzora.
Khupe has always insisted that she was the only bona-fide MDC leader because Chamisa and Mudzuri were appointed by the late Tsvangirai outside congress.
As such, she is already preparing for the harmonised elections pencilled for July 30.
Writing on micro-blogging site twitter, Gutu inferred that the MDC Alliance led by Chamisa is now supping with the devil after having roped in ex-Zanu PF officials who were thrown out from the ruling party last November after Mnangagwa was propelled to power via a soft coup.
The former Zanu PF officials have since formed their own party called National Patriotic Front (NPF).
Last week, NPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire revealed that NPF, which is closely linked to former president Robert Mugabe, was joining hands with the MDC Alliance.
Gutu said the development was a clear sign that their former comrades have sold out.
“Now it’s abundantly clear who, exactly, has been supping with Mugabe and his cohorts. You can run but you certainly can’t hide. The chickens are coming home to roost . . . the way the cookie crumbles,” said Gutu.
But academic and researcher Pedzisai Ruhanya disagrees.
He said there was nothing wrong with building synergies even with discredited characters as long as that brings the votes.
“Mugabe is not the candidate. If he has a quantifiable following that is determined to soil Zanu PF and vote the opposition, what’s wrong with that? Who is clean in Zanu PF and politics in general? In any case, a corpus of literature shows us that implosion of the ruling elite oftentimes leads to a democratic breakthrough, especially when former ruling party supporters join the opposition as was the case when Moi lost in Kenya in 2002; so sit down,” Ruhanya wrote on Facebook.