Another split looms in MDC-T

via Another split looms in MDC-T | The Herald April 20, 2015

THE MDC-T may be headed for another split after its deputy president Thokozani Khupe yesterday allegedly organised protests in Bulawayo against party leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision to boycott by-elections set for June 10.

Party insiders said that Khupe is mobilising to push a vote of no-confidence against Tsvangirai.

Fierce clashes erupted during a rally at Stanley Square yesterday with members of MDC-T factions aligned to Khupe and former Mzilikazi Senator Matson Hlalo stoning and clubbing each other.

Tsvangirai, who was supposed to address supporters at the rally, did not attend after he was tipped of the impeding demonstrations.

MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora turned up instead.

Journalists fled for dear life as knobkerrie-wielding youths clashed.

Party youths carrying knob- kerries, bricks and an assortment of weapons chanted obscenities at each other and threatened to attack journalists whom they barred from attending the rally.

A freelance journalist, Antony Zinyange, was assaulted by MDC-T youths for taking pictures of the violent proceedings.

The Khupe faction was angered by placards that were being waved by Hlalo’s supporters accusing Khupe of trying to impose deputy mayor Gift Banda on the province.

Banda was recently barred by the High Court from being Bulawayo provincial chairman after Hlalo contested his election.

The Khupe faction allegedly wanted to take Tsvangirai to task about the party’s national executive committee and national council’s decision to endorse a boycott of by-elections.

Five parliamentary seats fell vacant in Bulawayo following the recall of 21 rebel MDC-T MPs last month.

Khupe’s faction is against the boycott as it felt the party would win the Bulawayo seats. Hlalo’s faction supports Tsvangirai’s boycott.

Party sources said Khupe refused to address the rally on behalf of Tsvangirai at an earlier meeting held at a city hotel.

Traffic flow was disrupted along the busy Third Avenue extension that leads into the city centre as motorists, fearing for their safety, used Khami Road.

Some of the party youths accused Khupe of foisting Banda onto the provincial chairmanship post yet he was barred by the courts from assuming the position.

Others supported Khupe and accused Hlalo of taking Tsvangirai and the party to court over the Bulawayo chairmanship. Hlalo’s supporters were eventually kicked out of Stanley Square.

Mwonzora and Khupe arrived at the rally six hours later as the clashes died down. Hlalo’s supporters said they did not want to be addressed by the pair. They said Mwonzora was part of the Khupe faction and would not say anything positive about Tsvangirai.

A member of the faction said Khupe had tried to force them to sign a petition to support Banda for the provincial chairmanship and form new structures in the party’s districts.

The original MDC split in 2005 in the wake of sharp differences over participation in Senate elec- tions.

The anti-Senate faction was to become the present day MDC-T while the pro-Senate faction is the MDC led by Welshman Ncube, which further split to resulting in the formation of MDC-99 which was led by Job Sikhala.

Sikhala has since joined MDC-T.