Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa says it is not worried about attempts by Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T formation, which wants to take over the Alliance ahead of the forthcoming parliamentary and council bye-elections.
In an interview, MDC Alliance presidential spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda, said they won’t abandon the party name, a day after the Khupe group indicated that they would use the Alliance, formed in 2017 by several parties, to contest bye-elections for recalled parliamentarians and councilors.
According to Sibanda, Khupe’s MDC-T is being used by Zanu PF in an attempt to destroy the MDC Alliance before the 2023 general elections, with a view of forming a quasi one-party state in Zimbabwe.
“President Chamisa has noted very clearly that what is happening now is akin to what Mnangagwa has done before which is to try and create a defacto one party state. This is why president Chamisa accepted the decision from the executive (committee) yesterday which says that the party will continue with its name and the party is going to resist Zanu PF giving it an identity and just today the president said ‘the game is on’. If they are playing a game then honestly we are going to take them seriously and we will face them off. They will see a program that is being rolled out by the president.”
But Khaliphani Pugeni, presidential spokesperson of the Khupe formation warns that they would take drastic action against the Chamisa group if it uses the name of the Alliance in the forthcoming bye-elections.
“The MDC Alliance is our brainchild and it’s an instrument which we used for elections in 2018 and it’s an instrument which we can use in the forthcoming election depending if we need to. That it’s our brainchild there is no question around it, that we own it there is no question around it. So, as and when necessary we will use it … We are going to stop them from using our slogans, using our emblems, using our colors, using our name. We are going to stop all of this nonsense.”
He dismissed suggestions that the Khupe formation is being used by the ruling party for its political mileage.
“There are reasonable people in Zimbabwe and those that tend to put premium on propaganda. I think everybody saw Tsvangirai launch the Alliance, everybody knows that there is an Alliance agreement, which alliance agreement states that the president of the MDC-T is also the president of the MDC Alliance and we know the courts have solved that matter.”
Khupe, who was declared leader of the MDC-T by the Supreme Court early this year, recently recalled several parliamentarians and councilors aligned to the Chamisa formation.
The Supreme Court declared null and void Chamisa’s leadership of the MDC, and ordered the party to hold an extra ordinary congress to replace the late MDC founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, who died of cancer in 2018.
Some supporters and political commentators are urging Chamisa, who wrestled power from Khupe soon after Tsvangirai’s death, to form another opposition party in order to remain relevant in Zimbabwean politics.
The MDC Alliance agreement signed by several political parties indicates that the leader of the Alliance is the president of the MDC-T.
Human rights lawyer, Matshobana Ncube, says Chamisa has been cornered by the Khupe formation, which is clipping his wings.
“So, in a way even assuming one says Thokozani Khupe is leader of MDC-T in terms of the decision of the Supreme Court that says she is the leader of the MDC-T that had been previously led by Morgan Tsvangirai, then what it means is that when she took over the leadership of that party then she also took over the leadership of the Alliance.
“So, if the Alliance is in existence, she is the leader and they can contest the polls under that name. But we all know that these are political maneuverings and out maneuverings of one another within the political space …The battle for the souls and hearts of the people that the opposition purports to lead. The MDC Alliance might go to court to seek an interdict but my worry is that with the decision of the Supreme Court in place, if one had to go to the High Court to seek such an interdict, the High Court will always refer one to the Supreme Court decision to say that question was settled in that Supreme Court decision and so the High Court being an inferior court cannot revisit the matter. So, in a way, it’s a closed chapter. Thokozani (Khupe) is supposed to lead that party or the Alliance in terms of the agreement of the political parties or in terms of the decision of the Supreme Court … Therefore going to court for me will be a waste of time.”
He said Chamisa should seriously consider forming another party.
“What in essence this party has to do, these individuals, Chamisa and his colleagues, they may consider forming a new political entity, a new political party. In so doing they will have to sacrifice those Members of Parliament, those councilors that remain in their positions, that have not been recalled by Thokozani Khupe and others in her entity as we have seen others being recalled. The only challenge or danger politically ofcourse that one may see is that if these remain with Thokozani Khupe they may then have their allegiance to her and they may have lost to their colleagues who may then be forming a new entity.”