MDC heads for another split

The late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy, Thokozani Khupe

HARARE – The country’s largest opposition party, the MDC, could be headed for another split owing to widening differences in its top echelons over an alliance pact sealed by Morgan Tsvangirai on August 5.

Thokozani Khupe — Tsvangirai’s longest serving deputy — has teamed up with several other MDC heavyweights to take Tsvangirai head-on for inking the pact without the full blessings of the movement’s leadership.

Lovemore Moyo, the MDC’s national chairperson, and Abednico Bhebhe, the party’s organising secretary are among the bigwigs that are rallying behind Khupe.

Last week, Tsvangirai suspended Bhebhe, pending full investigations into the violence that broke out in Bulawayo recently. This was viewed as an attempt by Tsvangirai to weaken the growing opposition against his leadership by putting a wedge between Bhebhe and Khupe.

Undeterred by the divide and rule tactic, Khupe, Moyo and Bhebhe, have dared Tsvangirai by dispatching a letter to him, outlining their grievances.

In the letter, they have demanded that a planned MDC Alliance rally set for this weekend in the second city be postponed indefinitely until they have been appraised about the form of the coalition and the distribution of seats, particularly in the Matabeleland region.

“We further suggest that the launch of the Alliance agreement in Bulawayo scheduled for the 2nd of September 2017 be suspended pending, and to allow consultations with the leadership and the structures,” reads part of the letter.

“The launch can be subsequently be made after dialogue, consultations and concurrence of the leadership on the signed agreement”, the letter continues.

Tsvangirai was selected to lead the MDC Alliance on August 5.

The pact includes the People’s Democratic Party, led by Tendai Biti; the MDC led by Welshman Ncube; Transform Zimbabwe, headed by Jacob Ngarivhume; Zanu Ndonga headed by Denford Masiyarira and the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats led by Mathias Guchutu.

Both Biti and Ncube are former secretaries-general of a united MDC.

The MDC initially split in 2005 when Ncube walked out of the party, accusing Tsvangirai of being a dictator.

In 2014, the party split again, this time with Biti packing his bags as he also accused Tsvangirai of having dictatorial tendencies.

Fears are that the party could split once again, with leaders in the southern part of the country breaking ranks with Tsvangirai over his alleged unilateralism.

For long, Khupe has been unhappy with being sidelined by Tsvangirai after the MDC leader handpicked Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri to deputise him, along with Khupe.

With Tsvangirai going into bed with seven other leaders in the MDC Alliance, a bloated coalition with three vice presidents or deputy presidents could be in the offing as Tsvangirai tries to accommodate all the influential figures who are part of the pact.

In the event that the alliance proceeds to form the next government after the 2018 polls, Khupe, Moyo and Bhebhe could be pushed further down the pecking order to accommodate MDC Alliance principals.

In their letter to Tsvangirai, the trio argued that the MDC leader should urgently have dialogue with them as well as the party’s membership in the spirit of devolution of power as enshrined in the Constitution.

“We accordingly implore you to provide the structures with the copies of the alliance agreement coupled with the detailed explanation of the contents of the alliance agreement,” reads part of the letter.

So stark are the differences in the MDC that they are snubbing party functions and urging the structures in the southern region to snub the weekend rally citing safety concerns.

This follows the violence that broke out in Bulawayo recently where Khupe and other senior MDC officials were assaulted by party thugs who disrupted their meeting, allegedly at the instructions of Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai has since dismissed the allegations.

The suspension of Bhebhe is said to have further driven a wedge between Tsvangirai and Khupe because the MDC’s organising secretary is being seen as a victim and not the villain, as is now being alleged by the MDC leader.

“Indeed, if we could be attacked in Bulawayo our safety is not guaranteed in Harare. Further, we believe our concerns on the contents as well as the method that was used in the distribution of the seats are pertinent and should accordingly be addressed,” reads part of their letter to Tsvangirai.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu admitted that the party is going through difficult times but claimed that the sticking points would be amicably resolved and that the rally would go ahead as planned.

“As party leaders, we are meeting and discussing our different opinions and believe you me, at the end of the day, we are all going to agree on the need for a formidable coalition to face Zanu PF in next year’s elections. These are just teething challenges. You shouldn’t read too much into this episode. It’s just a passing phase,” said Gutu. – Daily News