Khupe, Chamisa fight over party name

HARARE - Two rival camps of the MDC led by Nelson Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe have clashed over ownership of the party name and symbols.

MDC acting chairperson Morgen Komichi, told the Daily News yesterday that they will drag Khupe to court if she continues using the name MDC-T.

“MDC-T is our name and is our own property. We have past experience on this issue, some tried to do it previously and you know what happened. We are going to approach the courts when the right time comes,” Komichi said.

But Khupe’s camp is not bothered.

The faction’s spokesperson, Obert Gutu, yesterday rubbished Komichi’s threats, saying Khupe remains the MDC’s rightful leader.

“Acting president … Khupe is the rightful, lawful, legitimate and indeed, constitutional acting president of the MDC-T until such a time that an extraordinary congress is held to elect a new substantive president of the party,” said Gutu.

“That is the correct legal and factual position and indeed, all relevant political and electoral stakeholders have since been accordingly informed. No one is going to stop us from using the name MDC-T. We are not at all worried by uninformed and angry shrill voices crying from certain desperate corners. We are on a roll. We are not looking back. There is absolutely neither retreat nor surrender.”

Chamisa recently severed ties with Khupe and her faction after the expiry of a seven-day ultimatum that she had been given by the MDC national council.

The council, which is the MDC’s highest decision-making body in-between congresses, had ordered Khupe to reach out and make peace with Chamisa, whom it elected to lead the party following the death of Morgan Tsvangirai last month.

Since the long illness and subsequent death on February 14 of the MDC’s founding father, there has been a vicious power struggle in the opposition movement to succeed him.

Although Chamisa was elected to lead the opposition movement by the party’s national council last month, Khupe and her allies have pooh-poohed the whole process as they also laid claim to the throne left vacant following the death of Tsvangirai from colon cancer.

She has openly refused to recognise Chamisa as the party’s presidential candidate, insisting that constitutionally, she was the party leader until congress elects Tsvangirai’s successor.

This comes as Khupe is forming new structures across the country with the epicentre of the political changes being Bulawayo.

The new Bulawayo provincial structure for the Khupe-led MDC is led by Nomvula Mguni who will be deputised by Mathias Moyo.

Other members of the Bulawayo executive are, Kholwani Ngwenya (secretary), Pauline Boni (deputy secretary), Seti Ndlovu (treasurer), Siplicious Moyo (deputy treasurer), Alick Gumede (organising secretary), Sheila Musonda (deputy organising secretary), Dennis Sithole (information and publicity secretary) and Getrude Ncube (deputy information and publicity secretary).

Khupe’s gripe with the goings-on in the MDC started long before Chamisa’s ascendancy to the hot seat.

In January, Khupe, national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe and the MDC’s former national chairperson Lovemore Moyo were at the centre of resisting Tsvangirai’s spirited attempts to ensure that the country’s fragmented opposition parties face Zanu PF at the elections as a united force.

Last year, Khupe and her allies were assaulted by some MDC youths who accused them of disrespecting Tsvangirai after they boycotted the launch of the MDC Alliance in Harare.

They were reportedly meeting party structures from the southern region to articulate their position on why they missed the MDC Alliance launch on August 5, 2017.

Allegations were also made that Tsvangirai had hired the thugs who attacked the three MDC officials at the party’s headquarters in Bulawayo.

The quartet was unhappy with Tsvangirai’s alleged dictatorial tendencies after he unilaterally formed the MDC Alliance without consulting the MDC leadership.

During Tsvangirai’s burial at his rural home at Humanikwa Village in Buhera, Khupe, Bhebhe and Gutu had to seek refuge in a hut at the late former prime minister’s homestead after some youths charged at and assaulted them.

Only recently, Khupe’s vehicle was vandalised while her personal assistant Witness Dube was badly injured after violent scenes broke out at the party’s provincial offices in Bulawayo last month.

According to insiders, Khupe had called the meeting — which was attended by Gutu and Bhebhe — to endorse her as the acting MDC president despite the fact that the party had long settled for Chamisa.

Violence broke out immediately after the meeting began as youths allegedly aligned to Chamisa violently disrupted the event, resulting in the skirmishes that left almost a dozen injured.

The ructions in the country’s largest opposition party mark the third split of the original MDC, formed in 1999.

The MDC initially split in 2005 with Welshman Ncube walking away from the then Tsvangirai-led party.

In 2014 the opposition movement split again with Tendai Biti at the front of the rebellion.

Both Biti and Ncube are now back in the MDC Alliance led by Chamisa.

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