Pictures: Khupe flees as MDC-T Congress descends into violence

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MDC-T interim president Dr Thokozani Khupe yesterday walked out of her party’s extraordinary congress in Harare  after being incensed by the chaos that marred the voting process.

The congress was meant to replace the late party founder and leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai. 

The voting process was marred by fistfights and haggling among voters who were not happy with the electoral process.

Before walking out, Dr Khupe had tried to stop the congress, but was attacked by Mr Mwonzora’s loyalists. 

At the time of going to print, only Matabeleland North, Bulawayo, Chitungwiza and Manicaland had voted while voting was expected to continue well into the night. 

It was not immediately clear when the results would be made available.

The extraordinary congress held at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) was ordered by the Supreme Court to elect a replacement for Tsvangirai after the court, in a civil suit, found that changes made after 2014 were against the party’s own rules. The civil suit involved only party members with no State intervention.

Messrs Douglas Mwonzora, Morgen Komichi and Engineer Elias Mudzuri were up against the party acting president Dr Khupe in the poll that was blighted by logistical challenges as well as charges of vote-rigging and tampering with the voters’ roll.

The candidates sat at the high table witnessing the unfolding drama as voting was suspended at intervals to deal with concerns of some of the delegates from all the 12 provinces that form the structures of MDC-T.

Mr Mwonzora was accused by his rivals of trying to manipulate the system through bussing delegates from Manicaland to participate in the polls when they were not part of the party’s structures in 2014 or on the supplementary voters’ roll that was agreed to by all the contestants. 

“Let people vote, Bulawayo has voted why do you want to stop the vote in Manicaland? There is a council resolution and we should use that for people to vote, why are you trying to stop the vote?” replied Mr Mwonzora.

However, Dr Khupe would not have any of it and told Mr Mwonzora to his face that he was trying to manipulate the system and use aliens to vote.

“You are rigging. You cannot do that. We will not allow people to steal elections. They must stop the voting process. The voters roll has been tampered with. People who are not on the voters roll should not be inside here. We are not going to allow it, never,” she said while banging the table.

Between Dr Khupe and Mr Mwonzora sat the other two contestants Mr Komichi and Eng Mudzuri who were also raising concerns over alleged attempts by the secretary-general to include people into the voters’ roll when they were not.

As tempers flared, Mr Shakespeare Mukoyi, who was acting as the coordinator for the whole congress, intervened and tried to save the day. 

He blamed certain candidates for interfering with the electoral process.

Meanwhile, there were fistfights as emotions boiled over among agents of the candidates as well as loyalists with security having a torrid time ejecting the angry mob.