HARARE – ANALYSTS say the MDC will live to regret its failure to resolve its leadership squabbles – which have led the 20-year-old movement to split yet again, less than six months before the country holds its watershed national elections.
This comes after the party’s supreme decision-making body in between congresses, the national council, met last Friday and resolved to fire long-serving vice president Thokozani Khupe and two other key officials — national spokesperson Obert Gutu and organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe over the leadership squabbles.
Khupe — who stood accused of playing truant— had been given an extended deadline to end her wrangle with Chamisa, whom she has refused to accept as the bona fide successor to the late party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
The firing of Khupe, Gutu and Bhebhe from the party followed the surprising resignation of chairman Lovemore Moyo over the leadership rumpus.
And yesterday, Gutu pooh-poohed the dismissal of the trio from the party, also insisting that Khupe was the leader of the MDC.
“We are on a roll. We are busy with our own party activities as I am speaking to you. Why should we be worried about a purported expulsion from an outfit to which we never belonged?
“We are busy engaging other democratic forces and we will soon announce to the nation the decision we would have taken.
“You will be surprised that more than 90 percent of MPs are on our side. It’s only that they cannot come out in the open for now, but the majority of them are on our side,” Gutu also claimed.
But political analysts warned that there were no winners in the current infighting, as the MDC was sending a wrong message to voters a few months before national polls took place.
“No one has won … although I understand Khupe was not making it easy for the MDC and Chamisa and that she was adversarial and uncooperative, firing her is falling into her trap as that is what she wanted.
“This leaves the MDC looking like an intolerant outfit incapable of sustaining dialogue with members holding different views on critical matters.
“The decision also exposes Chamisa as being ill-advised and surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear,” analyst Maxwell Saungweme said.
University of Zimbabwe senior lecturer in the department of Social Studies, Tawanda Zinyama, said Khupe’s dismissal would lead to another split in the MDC.
“These splinter parties affect the performance of the MDC, especially in Matabeleland. However, if Chamisa replaces her with someone from that region before the elections, the impact might be negligible,” he told the Daily News On Sunday.
Another political analyst, Rashweat Mukundu, said the split put the MDC in a difficult situation, especially coming as it did on the eve of the polls.
“It remains to be seen if Chamisa can unite the party after this acrimonious firing of Khupe. The opposition will obviously need to strengthen internal party democracy and predictability in leadership succession if it is to stand any chance of succeeding at the polls,” he said.
Last month, Chamisa received a ringing endorsement from the MDC Alliance which emphatically said he would be its sole presidential candidate, and would thus square off against President Emmerson Mnangagwa in this year’s presidential elections which are due in less than five months time.
The watershed polls will be the first in the past two decades not to feature 94-year-old former president Robert Mugabe and the late Tsvangirai.
The MDC is in an alliance which includes Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Jacob Ngarivhume’s Transform Zimbabwe, Zanu Ndonga headed by Denford Masiyarira, and the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats which is led by Mathias Guchutu.
Biti and Ncube are former secretaries-general of the original and united MDC which was led by Tsvangirai — whose death on Valentine’s Day ignited a damaging three-way leadership tussle within the MDC-T involving Chamisa, Khupe and Elias Mudzuri.