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Assaulted MDC-T Leader Thokozani Khupe Suspends Mwonzora, Party Extraordinary Congress

MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe.
MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader, Thokozani Khupe, who was manhandled by supporters of a rival presidential candidate, has suspended the party’s secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora, in the middle of Extraordinary Congress, designed to replace the late MDC founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Khupe wrote a letter to Mwonzora last night indicating that he has been suspended for violating some sections of the MDC-T constitution.

Douglas Mzonwora's supporters (VOA)
Douglas Mzonwora's supporters (VOA)

“Following the recent developments in the party in which you have been involved in fraudulent activities regarding electoral procedures of the MDC-T Extraordinary Congress, instituting violence to our members and election agents as well as inappropriately withdrawing party funds without following due process, you acted in a manner inconsistent with express or implied conduct of your membership of the party, putting the party into disrepute … Accordingly in terms of clause of the constitution of the party you are hereby suspended from your position as secretary general of the party. During the period of your suspension you shall not perform any duties as secretary general.”

Khupe’s spokesperson, Khaliphani Pugeni, told VOA Studio 7 on Sunday evening that the MDC leader also suspended all proceedings at the Harare International Conference Center where she was manhandled by some party activists, said to be Mwonzora’s supporters.

Pugeni said, “Khupe has confirmed that she was manhandled and she knows the people who were charging towards her and that is the reason she has suspended the MDC-T congress and Mwonzora.”

An MDC-T activist voting at the party's Extraordinary Congress in Harare (VOA)
An MDC-T activist voting at the party's Extraordinary Congress in Harare (VOA)

Asked to explain how Khupe made such decisions while she was one of the presidential candidates, Pugeni said she “still has powers of an acting president.”

Pugeni noted that “it does not mean that the moment she became a candidate she lost her presidential powers. Whatever they are doing now at the Harare International Conference Center she says it’s a nullity. It was a hostile crowd that manhandled her. She suspects that those are Mwonzora’s supporters.”

Reacting to Khupe’s assault and chaos at the venue of the congress, Mwonzora told reporters in Harare that losers should accept the will of the people.

“I expect them to cool down, relax and accept the verdict of the people,” he said.

MDC-T presidential candidates before the party's presidential election in Harare. (VOA)
MDC-T presidential candidates before the party's presidential election in Harare. (VOA)

His dismissed his alleged suspension by Khupe as a non-event. “I can’t be suspended by a fellow candidate in an election, during an election, and in a few minutes time or in a few hours time we will have a new president and it is up to that president and the national executive to deal with this matter. It is an act of illegality.”

Mwonzora also shrugged off suggestions that the party will split once again after the Extraordinary Congress.

“A split is when the owners of the MDC split. The owners of the MDC in this regard are intact. As you saw it was individual candidates who saw how the election was going who have moved out. The members of congress remained and resolved to continue and they have just continued.”

Khupe, Mwonzora, Elias Mudzuri and Morgen Komichi were contesting for the presidential post, which has been vacant following Tsvangirai’s death in 2018.

The Supreme Court ordered the MDC-T to hold the Extraordinary Congress after it declared “null and void” Nelson Chamisa’s leadership of the party.

Chamisa is the current leader of the MDC Alliance.

The MDC, which was formed by various organizations in 1999, has split several times due to political differences in the party’s leadership.

Mavis Gama also contributed to this article