Harvest House drama as fretting Khupe aide in doorstep retreat

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THERE was drama in front of the MDC’s Harvest House headquarters Wednesday when MDC-T acting national spokesperson Khaliphani Phugeni refused to enter the building to address journalists for his scheduled press conference.

A visibly shaken Phugeni said he was worried about his personal safety.

He was seen engaged in several phone calls with what he said were the MDC-T leadership.

This is despite assurances by chief security officer Paul Gorekore his safety and that of his aides were guaranteed.

A group of anti-riot police officers were also parked in an open truck outside the building.

“I have just phoned the organ secretary Bhebhe and he said you can get in but the party national chairperson (Morgen) Komichi and SG (Douglas) Mwonzora said I must not get in and reschedule the press conference,” said Phugeni.

The now rechristened Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House has been the subject of an intense dispute between the Thokozani Khupe led MDC-T and rival Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance.

There were reports this week some party youths seized control of the Harare CBD structure from the hands of the MDC-T and used this as a basis to demand dialogue between the main opposition’s feuding leaders.

Subsequent reports however claimed the MDC-T leadership had since reclaimed control of Harvest House from youths who have been occupying the building since Sunday evening.

2014 Harare provincial youth chairperson Paul Gokorekore who led the seizure of the iconic opposition building said everyone who was a member of the MDC-T’s 2014 structures was allowed in.

Phugeni was secretary for ICT in 2014.

“Everyone who was in the 2014 structures is allowed in and do party business,’ Gorokore told journalists outside the building.

“I want to reiterate that some individuals have been captured and are not willing to follow the Supreme Court ruling,” Gorokore said of a ruling that restored the party’s leadership in the hands of Khupe, then party deputy president.

“Our leaders must not be selective when they are applying the SC judgement.

“From what we have seen, the acting party spokesperson made a mistake by standing outside and then started to talk to journalists while others were inside waiting for him.

“We are not rude, but we have a clear position that our leaders must sit down and talk and solve party challenges that we are facing.

“As ordinary Zimbabweans, we have suffered and as youths, we have suffered enough, and it looks like some of our leaders are now enjoying what comes with party positions.”

He added, “We are facing by-elections and instead of focusing on that, we are preparing to donate the seats to Zanu PF.”

While he was addressing journalists, some Mwonzora loyalists started pushing and shoving journalists ordering Gorekore to stop talking to the media.

Journalists stood their ground, attracting the attention police officers who chased the hooligans away and ordered Gorokore to get inside and address the media.