SENIOR STAFF WRITER
©️ INTERIM MDC president Thokozani Khupe, pictured, has upped the ante in the war for the control of the country’s main opposition — vowing yesterday that she will eject her rivals from the party’s iconic national headquarters in Harare as soon as the national coronavirus lockdown ends.
Khupe’s spokesperson, Khaliphani Phugeni, told the Daily News yesterday that they wanted to assure their supporters that they would boot out their rivals from the hugely symbolic Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (MRT) House once the government lifts the current stay-at-home order.
This comes after the country’s former Speaker of Parliament and also then chairperson of the MDC, Lovemore Moyo, warned the party’s brawling officials at the weekend that their mindless feuding would render them irrelevant, while also giving Zanu PF the edge in the fast-approaching 2023 elections.
The ructions in the fractured party also follow the recent Supreme Court ruling which upheld an earlier High Court decision to nullify Nelson Chamisa’s leadership of the MDC, which it said he had ascended to illegally.
“We will occupy our offices (MRT House) after the coronavirus. We want to assure our supporters that we will definitely occupy our head office and start operating from there.
“There is no doubt about that because … it is the headquarters of the MDC,” Phugeni told the Daily News yesterday.
MRT House, previously known as Harvest House, is the MDC’s citadel of power — having been the home of the party for most of the past two decades.
This comes as Khupe and her allies have been involved in a hammer and tongs tussle with Chamisa’s faction ever since the death of the MDC’s much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, from colon cancer in February 2018.
The fighting has intensified following the Supreme Court’s ruling in March this year, which voided Chamisa’s disputed leadership of the party.
The ruling upheld last year’s decision by the High Court which had said Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC had violated the main opposition party’s constitution.
The net effect of the unanimous judgment that was handed down by a trio of Supreme Court judges — Paddington Garwe, Bharat Patel and Antoinette Guvava — was that Chamisa’s MDC’s presidency was unconstitutional, and therefore null and void.
In addition to installing Khupe as interim party president, the court also ordered her to convene an extraordinary MDC congress to elect a new leadership within three months — which key gathering is tentatively set for July 31.
The court also re-instated Douglas Mwonzora and Morgen Komichi to the positions of secretary-general and chairperson respectively.
Recently, the Khupe group successfully recalled Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana), Tabitha Khumalo (MDC proportional representative), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura) and Midlands senator Lillian Timveos from Parliament, as it flexed its muscles and demonstrated that it is fully in charge of the beleaguered party for now.
The party’s interim leadership recently tried to take over MRT House, without success — with youths aligned to Chamisa threatening to unleash violence against them if they moved into the iconic building.
Mwonzora said yesterday that when they sought the help of police at the time, this was to stop their rivals from stealing the party’s property, which he claimed had since disappeared from the building.
“We got information that some of the leaders who had lost party leadership positions after the Supreme Court judgment were stripping Harvest House equipment.
“Computers and furniture were being taken away. We now know that some of the computer accessories are at a house in Highfield belonging to one of the councillors.
“We now also know that some of the furniture from the sixth floor, which is the secretary-general’s office, is at a house in Madokero,” Mwonzora said.
On his part, the deputy spokesperson for the Chamisa faction, Luke Tamborinyoka, dismissed Khupe’s threats saying they were empty.
“In what capacity do they think they will take control of Harvest House? Who are they?
“We don’t know them. They are usurpers who are claiming ownership of our MPs with the help of Zanu PF.
“We will not be moved by their empty threats. The earlier they realise that Zanu PF has no stake in what we own the better,” Tamborinyoka said.
“As a party we will not countenance a president who came from the courts to come and take over our headquarters which is occupied by a president who came from the people.
“That will never happen under our watch,” he added.
This comes as the High Court is expected to pass an important ruling on Friday, on who has the power to recall MPs from the National Assembly — following an urgent application by Chamisa and his lieutenants to stall further recalls of MPs by Khupe.
It also comes as Moyo has warned the brawling MDC officials that they risked losing their relevance unless they urgently heal their rift.
Speaking to the Daily News’s sister publication, the Daily News on Sunday over the weekend, he described the mindless bloodletting in the party as a useless “power struggle”.
Breaking his silence over the damaging infighting, the respected Moyo said pointedly that the feud had “absolutely nothing to do with serving the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe”.
“The fight between the two formations is purely a power struggle. It’s about fighting for the control of the soul of the MDC and (the late) President Morgan Tsvangirai’s political legacy.
“More importantly, it’s about who is who in the MDC leadership,” the now leader of the United Movement for Devolution (UMD) said.
“Unfortunately, there is no winner in the on-going political fight as the two parties will significantly lose the opposition vote, supporters and credibility.
“Actually, Zanu PF will emerge the biggest winner as it stands from a divided and unco-ordinated opposition come the 2023 general elections.
“Remember, the 2005 MDC split set a wrong precedent that one can disregard the party constitution, regulations and rules and still remain in charge of the party,” Moyo further said.
“In this regard, weak party structures capitulated and supported Tsvangirai in defying the national council decision on the Senate participation.
“However, it must be noted that Tsvangirai went on to build a strong and vibrant MDC that performed exceptionally well in elections,” the soft spoken former Matobo legislator said.
“My advice is very simple. Put the interests of the people of Zimbabwe first. Your personal egos and interests will always be accommodated if you deliver electoral victory in plebiscites.
“What you are doing to yourselves, tearing each other apart, especially on social media, makes Zanu PF smile. Focus on the ball.
“None of the two parties is holding the ball. It’s Zanu PF that is currently holding and playing the ball,” Moyo added.
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