Khupe faces toughest gamble of her political life

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

EMBATTLED MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe faces the fresh dilemma of either dumping her current loyalists for the lure of being acting president of an unwelcoming but bigger MDC or simply stick to her smaller flock of trusted lieutenants.

Khupe was recently granted interim stewardship of the main opposition by the courts.

This followed a successful challenge filed by a party member against MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s controversial rise to the helm of the party.

The courts directed the now divided MDC to reconstitute its 2014 structures and hold an extraordinary congress within three months to find a replacement for founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died of colon cancer 2018.

His death sparked a fierce tussle for his job between Khupe and Chamisa with the latter emerging triumphant.

The two now lead two distinct parties which both having their own leaderships.

However, as the ex-deputy prime minister meditates over her next move, her current secretary general Nixon Nyikadzino is not making matters any easier for her.

The once firebrand civil society activist has marked his territory, declaring Khupe’s smaller MDC-T was lawfully constituted, hinting any action seeking its disbandment could invite a backlash.

Khupe finds herself having to choose between Nyikadzino and Douglas Mwonzora, an MDC Alliance politician.

Nyikadzino is a political newcomer who has stood by her side during the most turbulent period of her career while Mwonzora, who wields relative clout, has not disguised his willingness to ditch Alliance colleagues to reclaim his 2014 job from the former.

In a statement, Nyikadzino was adamant the smaller MDC led by Khupe should remain intact as it was a product of a lawful congress which produced its current leadership.

He said of the Supreme Court judgement, “Whereas there are many challenges associated with implementing this judgement, I wish to state that as Secretary General of the MDC-T, as elected on the 23rd of April 2018 at an ordinary congress of the party, I have taken note of the judgement and acknowledge the directives therein.

“In continuing to execute my responsibility as Secretary General of the party, I shall advise stakeholders on the path the party will be following.

“I am cognisant of the fact that we contested the 2018 harmonised elections as MDC-T and at a bare minimum managed to secure a seat for a member of parliament in the lower house as well as a senatorial seat.

“I shall be communicating the party position with regards to these deployments within the next few days.

“As such, please note that there is only one secretary general of the MDC-T as elected at the said congress on the 23rd of April 2018, which was legally convened, and attended by bona fide members of our party, the MDC-T. Be guided accordingly.”

And the rebels are not in short supply.

An MDC-T party member based in Chakari constituency, Tarisai Chikuvanganga has also warned Mwonzora to stop masquerading as a member of the Khupe group, arguing the Alliance senator automatically surrendered his job through siding with the Chamisa led MDC when the party split into two in 2018.

Chikuvanganga also reminded his boss, Khupe she should uphold the values of the smaller MDC’s constitution particularly clauses relating to membership termination.