Source: MDC-T congress endorses Dr Khupe – Sunday News Apr 22, 2018
Vusumuzi Dube, Sunday News Reporter
THE much-talked about Dr Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T extraordinary congress held in Bulawayo yesterday resembled a routine meeting meant to rubberstamp Dr Khupe’s rise to the helm of the faction of the opposition party.
The faction which has continuously referred to itself as the genuine MDC-T held its extraordinary congress at Stanley Square in Makokoba, a meeting which was meant to elect a leader to replace Mr Morgan Tsvangirai who passed away in February.
The MDC-T split into two factions, one led by Mr Nelson Chamisa and the other by Dr Khupe as a result of power struggles that followed the death of its founding president Mr Tsvangirai on 14 February. Mr Chamisa was elevated by MDC-T’s organs to be the party’s leader, while Dr Khupe remained with another faction where she declared herself acting president, with the backing of other senior party members who included national organising secretary Mr Abednego Bhebhe and national spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu.
Dr Khupe was already dishing out campaign material presenting herself as the faction’s presidential candidate and even using a vehicle emblazoned
“Vote Dr Thokozani Khupe for President 2018” before the extraordinary congress. During yesterday’s congress, just over 400 delegates eventually confirmed her as the substantive president, deputised by former spokersperson Mr Obert Gutu.
An ex-convict who recently benefited from the Presidential Amnesty, Ms Yvonne Musarurwa was elected as the party’s organising secretary and will be deputised by Mr Alfred Ncube from the party’s Bulawayo Province. Former organising secretary, Mr Bhebhe is now the party’s national chairperson while another political activist, Ms Linda Masarira emerged from the sidelines to become the new party spokesperson.
Mr Nickson Nyikadzino is the new secretary-general and will be deputised by academic Dr Samukele Hadebe. Mr Chief Ndlovu is the new treasurer-general while Ms Dorothy Bhebhe is the new secretary for women’s affairs and Miss Isabel Mwonzora is the secretary for youth affairs.
However, it is the election of Ms Masarira as the party spokesperson that almost saw the congress come to an abrupt end with disgruntled party members accusing the leadership of imposing the activist on them, alleging that she was not a member of the party.
Mr Bhebhe, who had been given the task of introducing the new leadership could be seen struggling to contain the largely youthful protesters who were accusing the party of going against their constitution and imposing Ms Masarira on them. Mr Bhebhe was continuously signalling the protesters to be silent, suggesting that they will handle the matter internally.
“These are the very people who told us that Chamisa and his supporters were going against the principles of the party constitution then they violate it the very day we elect them to lead our party. Everyone knows that Linda is not a member of MDC-T, she doesn’t have a membership card nor is she in any of our structures. Clearly someone just decided to impose her on us. We had our own nominees but surprisingly they were not even considered, instead we were told Linda was elected unopposed,” said one protester who declined to be named.
Further, some of the youths from Bulawayo Province vowed to oppose the election of Miss Mwonzora as their leader saying they felt betrayed by Dr Khupe as they had led her fight against the Mr Chamisa-led faction. They claimed Dr Khupe had promised them the leadership of the youth assembly as a reward for their “courage” but were surprised at the last minute emergence of Miss Mwonzora’s candidature.
“All along we were promised that Mthokozisi Ncube will be put at the helm of the youth assembly but last night we were told that it now had to be Miss Mwonzora. We tried standing our ground but our provincial elders asked us to back off but this will not stop here, we will keep on fighting till we get what we were promised,” said a youth member who identified himself as Nqo.
Meanwhile, in her acceptance speech, Dr Khupe said her faction valued the party constitution saying they would not work with anyone who did not respect both the party’s and national constitution.
“Respect for constitution does not only start at Government level but within our political systems. MDC-T was founded on constitutionalism and the rule of law; no one can truly be a proud member of our party if they cannot respect their own constitution. Constitutionalism is the blood of the party, democracy is the bones that it stands for and our values are the flesh to this body we call MDC-T. We therefore cannot at any given time and under any circumstances be seen to be violating our own party constitution,” said Dr Khupe.
She revealed that the party will soon be nominating their candidates to represent them in the upcoming harmonised elections.
Meanwhile, the party changed their party logo, removing Mr Tsvangirai’s face from the open palm and replacing it with that of a baby’s. They also made amendments to their constitution which saw them reverting to a system where they have one deputy president and giving their congress the powers of being the sole decision making body within the party.