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Mwonzora Takes Over MDC-T Presidential Post As Furious Rivals Cite Massive Electoral Fraud

Douglas Mwonzora, Thokozani Khupe and other MDC-T leaders seen just before the party held an Extraordinary Congress in Harare on Sunday.
Douglas Mwonzora, Thokozani Khupe and other MDC-T leaders seen just before the party held an Extraordinary Congress in Harare on Sunday.

The new leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Douglas Mwonzora, says he beat his rivals in a free, fair and credible election at the just-ended MDC-T Extraordinary Congress held in Harare.

In an interview, Mwonzora dismissed suggestions that he rigged the elections and Thokozani Khupe’s claims that she has suspended her from the party.

“When you are in the middle of an election with your opponent, one cannot expel another candidate. Miss Khupe’s powers were dissolved the moment the election started. So, it means that there was no longer any president and all candidates were eyeing that position. When we were in the middle of the election, and after noticing that things were tough she then made claims that she was suspending me. That can’t happen. This does not bother me at all because she claims that she suspended me from the position of secretary general.

“I no longer hold that position. I’m now president of the party. She did not suspend me from the post of president. She does not have power to do that. What she did is disgraceful. She wanted to snatch ballot papers and so on. I think that she was angry at that time, she was frustrated by the fact that things were not going her way. She is our party’s vice president. I will talk to her so that we can revitalize our party.”

Khupe told reporters in Harare on Sunday night that Mwonzora allegedly rigged the presidential election by using an illegal voters’ roll. She also suspended Mwonzora claiming that he mishandled party funds.

Another losing candidate, Elias Mudzuri, who only got 14 votes, also claimed that Mwonzora rigged the election.

“What happened yesterday cannot be described as an election. The most important thing is that when you are doing anything in your home, you should not cheat each other. There is always need to agree on everything you are doing. I got out of the venue when the third province had voted. What happened when the first up to the third provinces were voting was a clear indication to me that things were not going well … Not that people were failing to cast their votes properly but that the participants were not in the party’s voters’ register. I also noticed that we had three voters’ registers.

“The first one was said to be the 2014 one, second was a supplementary voters roll and the third had names of people being selected by the chairman. Some people also observed that names were just being written and given to polling officers. They were being called and given numbers with some said to be from Epworth. The Manicaland scenario was the worst situation as we were told that some buses came from somewhere. When I got that information, I simply noticed that we were wasting our time. If someone is happy that he won by using all means necessary, let him celebrate. To me this is an unacceptable, disputed election.”

Mudzuri said the party has to hold a meeting to discuss what happened during the Extraordinary Congress held at the Harare International Conference Center.

“We need to face each other and discuss this issue. Our election agents need to compile all the information about what transpired at the congress. It’s difficult to go to court but maybe that could be the only way out.”

Indications are that Khupe is expected to take the matter to court this week amid reports of a rift between Mwonzora, Mudzuri, Komichi and others.

Mwonzora got 883 votes, Khupe 118, Mudzuri 14 and Komichi 9.

Thomas Chiripasi contributed to this article