Tsvangirai, Khupe ready to patch-up differences and re-launch force for change

HARARE – MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe will meet tomorrow to try and save the labour-backed opposition from splitting — following a nasty fallout caused by disagreements over a coalition with other opposition parties.

By Mugove Tafirenyika

Tsvangirai has not been seeing eye-to-eye with his long-serving deputy after the MDC president bulldozed his way into signing a coalition deal with a group of opposition parties that include his former secretaries-general — Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti — whom he had fallen out with in 2005 and 2014, respectively.

Khupe, whose grievances have resonated well with influential MDC figures in the southern part of Zimbabwe, has been boycotting meetings called by Tsvangirai to get him to reconsider his decision.

She was also conspicuous by her absence at the September 2 rally at White City Stadium where the former prime minister in the inclusive government launched the MDC Alliance — formed on August 5.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka confirmed tomorrow’s meeting.

“They have always met regularly and they are meeting again but I cannot go into the specifics about the date and venue because like I said, I don’t find it to be a media issue.”

MDC national chairperson Lovemore Moyo, who together with Khupe and organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe, have been fighting in one corner over the manner in which Tsvangirai has handled coalition talks, said there was progress towards coming up with a common position with Tsvangirai.

“The fact that you are talking about that meeting means we are doing something to ensure that the matter is resolved amicably although I cannot say about the Monday meeting because I am out of town so you could ask Tamborinyoka,” Moyo told the Daily News On Sunday.

Sources told the Daily News On Sunday that Tsvangirai wanted closure to the long-drawn saga and that it was Khupe who stood to lose the most if they failed to bury their differences.

Khupe is the leader of the House in Parliament on the MDC side and was said to be keen to resolve her “issues” with Tsvangirai before opening of  the new session on Tuesday.

“More importantly, she is under pressure because Parliament is reopening and if she doesn’t pitch up as she has been doing with party programmes, then she will be supplanted hence it is imperative that she engages the president otherwise she might find it difficult to visit Harvest House.

“Apart from that,  the party’s national council meeting is due and could be held any day next week where the cases of (deputy treasurer-general Charlton) Hwende, Bhebhe and others will be discussed and concluded and she knows any resolution can come out of that meeting which makes her presence very important,” a source told the Daily News On Sunday.

Sources privy to the dispute said both sides had realised that none of them would benefit from a split on the eve of a major election, in which the MDC needs to be at its strongest to fight a well-funded Zanu PF which, apart from enjoying the power of incumbency, has the electoral playing field tilted in its favour.

Last week, Moyo allayed fears that the MDC could be on the brink of yet another debilitating split, the third one since its formation in 1999.

“There will be no split. The disagreements are just something we want to correct. As a leadership, we have raised our concerns. We need to solve these issues and move on. We want to form a government of the people in 2018. I think it’s a problem that can be resolved.

“Our disagreements were on the issues to do with the distribution of seats to Alliance partners and some clauses. We must make sure that we transform the country economically,” said Moyo.

Tsvangirai was selected to lead the MDC Alliance on August 5 at an event boycotted by Khupe, Moyo and Bhebhe.

The trio were targets of party yobs who unleashed an orgy of violence at the party’s provincial offices in Bulawayo on August 6.

Khupe was injured in the violence which she blamed on Tsvangirai.

Party thugs were allegedly incensed that Khupe and her team were holding a separate meeting which they felt was aimed at undermining the Alliance. – Daily News