MDC leader Douglas Mwonzora and his deputy Thokozani Khupe have buried the hatchet and agreed to work together again following months of acrimony triggered by last December’s disputed extraordinary congress.
By Mugove Tafirenyika and Blessings Mashaya
Since the congress to choose the late MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai’s successor, Khupe and her allies have been boycotting party meetings, accusing Mwonzora of rigging his way to the helm of the party.
Following Mwonzora’s efforts to unite the party, MDC spokesperson Witness Dube told the Daily News yesterday that on Friday Khupe and her allies attended their first meeting of the party since last year.
“Mwonzora diffused the little tensions that existed after the extraordinary congress and managed to rally all leaders of the party towards unity of purpose. The party emerged from the two-day workshop more united than ever.
“Khupe, Chief Ndlovu (deputy treasurer general) and Khaliphani Phugeni (deputy spokesperson) attended MDC standing committee retreat where they duly recognised Mwonzora as president. The workshop took place on Friday and Saturday at Mabvazuva Resort in Harare.
“It also considered the national dialogue agenda in detail, and the official party positions regarding this issue will be made public not long from now,” Dube said.
Sources who attended the meeting told the Daily News that Khupe raised her concerns with Mwonzora and the two leaders agreed that the issues would be addressed when the party holds its ordinary congress expected before year-end.
“At the end of the day they found a common ground. Everyone was happy that the party is now united. It was a frank discussion between Khupe and Mwonzora and the vice president finally recognised his presidency,” the source said.
Phugeni, who also doubles as Khupe’s spokesperson, yesterday confirmed that their camp had decided to temporarily shelve their concerns, especially about the violence that marred the extraordinary congress, as well as the fact that it was inquorate, among other issues, and concentrate on working to build the party.
“The consensus was that concerns that you are referring to cannot be the reason for us to abandon the people because they can still be resolved some other time. What is important at the moment is the cause that we all believe in, the need to work on issues that make the lives of Zimbabweans better. Our personal differences should not be allowed to distract us to the people’s cause,” Phugeni said.
At the extraordinary congress, Khupe, Elias Mudzuri and Morgen Komichi, who were also contesting for the presidency, felt aggrieved and walked out in protest accusing Mwonzora of rigging the election and looting the party’s coffers.
However, in January, Mwonzora offered the three losing officials an olive branch and appointed Khupe as the first VP, Mudzuri second VP and Komichi as the national chairperson.
But, for the past five months, Khupe declined the offer, saying she did not recognise Mwonzora as the party president, demanding fresh elections.
While in March, Dube claimed Khupe had finally accepted Mwonzora’s offer to deputise him, the former Deputy Prime Minister in the short-lived government of national unity quickly poured cold water on the assertion through a post on microblogging site, Twitter.
Dube further tried to downplay Mwonzora and Khupe’s conflict, saying the VP was not readily available to take the offer as she had tested Covid-19 positive soon after the congress.
“We also know that was a heat of the moment disputation which she did not follow through within the organs of the party or through the courts of law. It is well, all that ends well.
“Khupe was affected by Covid-19 after the extraordinary congress and that is the only known reason why she had not attended any party meetings … (However), whatever was her position regarding the extraordinary congress is now water under the bridge,” he said, then.
In a meeting pursuant to Dube’s claims, Khupe raised her concerns to Mwonzora, including what she viewed as illegal standing committee appointments.
“I can confirm that I met with … Mwonzora in Harare on February 18, 2021 for the first time since December 27, 2020 extraordinary congress.
“The following issues were discussed: violence, illegitimate voters’ roll, as well as inquorate extraordinary congress, among others,” Khupe said then, adding that the national council held on February 6, 2021 had no mandate to alter or amend the constitution.