BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THOKOZANI Khupe has revealed that the MDC-T received assistance from the state through judicial and parliamentary processes in their fight to destroy the Chamisa-led MDC Alliance.
This would seem to confirm the long-held belief that the state is sponsoring turbulences in the opposition party.
Khupe and her former ally, Douglas Mwonzora have crossed paths, with the former deputy prime minister and Makokoba legislator on Friday announcing she had taken over leadership of the party in an acting capacity.
She charged Mwonzora had expelled himself from the opposition party by writing to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on January 3, declaring that he was the leader of the MDC Alliance.
Khupe made the statements during a press conference held in Bulawayo on Friday. Mwonzora had the previous day pulled out and flagged a suspension letter that he said he had handed to Khupe over a week before. The letter states that Khupe had been suspended for transgressions including unholy alliances with perceived enemies and sabotaging party programmes.
In her visibly emotional address to the press on Friday, Khupe unwittingly disclosed that the MDC-T enjoyed the backing of government sponsored processes in the fight against Chamisa’s MDC Alliance. She was appealing to the state not to interfere in her current fight with Mwonzora.
“I would like to conclude by emphasising that today the 21st day of January 2022, the MDC-T has two formations,” Khupe said.
“I am therefore pleading with other political parties; as the MDC-T, I am calling on Parliament, a legislative organ of the state, to desist from taking sides as well as local government, it happened before, and it must not happen again.
“At the same time, I am calling on the ministry of Justice to be fair and just in dealing with our matter.”
Mwonzora and Khupe have long faced accusations of being strange bedfellows with Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF.
On June 11, 2021, Mwonzora met with Mnangagwa at State House where he reportedly sought to push for the scrapping of by-elections now scheduled for March 26. They met again under suspicious circumstances on January 6 soon after the President proclaimed the by-election date.
Mwonzora was given funds under the Political Parties Finance Act despite a court order barring the disbursement of such funds before the challenge by the MDC Alliance was concluded, a development that seemed to confirm MDC-T and Zanu PF had a special spot for each other.
Mwonzora has so far received millions of dollars under the fund. He has also enjoyed favourable publicity in the state media, something that has been unheard of for any opposition party.
Mwonzora has also declared his recognition of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leadership, with his official, Morgan Femai describing the President as the best. Mwonzora described Mnangagwa an illegitimate leader when he was still MDC Alliance secretary-general. MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa has refused to recognise Mnangagwa as a legitimate president.
Suspicion that the MDC-T was working with Zanu PF to influence judiciary processes swirled when Mwonzora and MDC-T chairman Morgen Komichi in March 2020 read a prepared speech soon after the Supreme Court ruled that Chamisa was not the bona fide leader of the MDC-T.
The development raised questions on the independence of the judiciary, with many asking how Mwonzora and Komichi knew that the ruling would be in their favour and brought a prepared speech to the court.
The courts later made several more rulings in favour of Khupe and Mwonzora, which the opposition complained about.
In another curious scenario, Mwonzora took over the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai party offices from the MDC Alliance with the help of the army and the police. Chamisa’s MDC Alliance has since been barred from accessing the party offices which have literally been guarded day and night by police and soldiers.
Last week too, a leaked audio went viral with Komichi disclosing that Mwonzora was working with Zanu PF. Komichi, also revealed in the audio that Mwonzora had treacherously ascended to power in the 2020 extraordinary congress, whose results were disputed by Khupe.
But yesterday, Khupe’s spokesperson Ntando Ndlovu denied the allegations that Khupe had let the cat out of the bag by claiming the MDC-T was getting favours from Mnangagwa.
He said Khupe was in fact a victim of a partial Parliament which favoured Chamisa at her expense.
“The Parliament and Justice ministry should not side with Mwonzora as they did with Chamisa against Dr Khupe in 2018 when she was recalled,” Ndlovu said.
“The Parliament has not been fair on how it dealt with the dispute between Dr Khupe and Chamisa. In 2018, Parliament dismissed her letter in which she had notified it to stop considering Chamisa’s intention to recall her, and she was subsequently recalled.
“The Justice ministry also went on to allocate funds under the Political Parties (Finance) Act to Chamisa after she had advised that the party did not qualify for the funds. That is the partiality that she was referring to and that it must not happen again in this case.”
He said Khupe was referring to Chamisa when she said other parties should not interfere in her dispute with Mwonzora, although suspicion was rife that she was referring to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Political analyst and the late Tsvangirai’s former advisor Alex Magaisa said the Mwonzora-Khupe dispute marked the collapse of a “judicially reconstructed party”.
“This circus is a new nadir for the small pseudo-opposition party which owes its existence to a controversial act of judicial reconstruction in March 2020,” Magaisa said.
In March 2020, the Supreme Court ruled Chamisa was not the legitimate leader of the MDC. Khupe had approached the High Court in the fight for the MDC and she won her case, leading to Chamisa’s appeal at the Supreme Court.
Khupe was voted in as MDC-T’s deputy president in 2014, but years later, Tsvangirai appointed Chamisa and Mudzuri as his additional deputies.
She argued that this was in contravention of the party’s constitution and that in fact she should have assumed leadership of the party when Tsvangirai died.
“The political partnership between Mwonzora and Khupe has long been a marriage of convenience fortified solely by a jointly held contempt toward Chamisa. For Chamisa and the MDC Alliance, the scene of their opponents bloodletting without provocation must be sweet news,” Magaisa wrote.
In a viral leaked telephone conversation between Komichi and a party youth, only identified as Nhira from Chegutu, Komichi trashed Mwonzora’s claim to legitimacy.
“Therefore, we boycotted the election (elective congress) after the second provinces had voted. So, it was not a congress at all. That was one of the bogus things that we did come across. Those results were just announced by one group of people who did all the counting and everything. So, they announced what they wanted as we had withdrawn from participation,” Komichi said.