Opposition politicians Nelson Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe (file photo).
MDC-T president Mr Nelson Chamisa on Monday said his estranged deputy Dr Thokozani Khupe, who on Sunday announced her split from the opposition party, was free to leave. Dr Khupe leads a breakaway faction in the MDC-T consisting of the national organising secretary Mr Abednego Bhebhe and national spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu, among other members.
Addressing a rally in Bulawayo, Dr Khupe announced that she was parting ways with the Mr Chamisa faction, but will retain the MDC-T name.
The split follows power struggles pitting Dr Khupe and Mr Chamisa that have rocked the MDC-T since the death of their founding president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai last month.
The differences have resulted in violent skirmishes and court challenges.
Dr Khupe said she could no longer be part of the Mr Chamisa-led MDC-T, which she said was violent.
In an interview on Monday, Mr Chamisa’s spokesperson Mr Luke Tamborinyoka said the MDC-T will not stop Dr Khupe from leaving.
“We would have loved to work together, but if she has taken a decision to walk away, then so be it, he said. This is not a faction, this is the party.”
Mr Tamborinyoka said Dr Khupe’s issue had nothing to do with Mr Chamisa, but the party’s organs that elevated him to lead MDC-T.
“This is now not a bilateral issue between her and president Chamisa,” he said.
“It’s an issue between vice president Khupe and the organs of the party. The organs are the National Council and the National Executive and they have already taken a position regarding this issue. This is an issue between madam Khupe and the party.”
Mr Tamborinyoka said Dr Khupe failed to heed the party’s calls to shape up in the stipulated seven-day ultimatum.
“Now you are telling us that she says she is walking away,” he said.
“It’s up to the party, but the party has already pronounced itself, it gave her seven days to shape up.”
Announcing her breakaway, Dr Khupe said she will soon join a coalition of like-minded political parties – the Dr Joice Mujuru-led People’s Rainbow Coalition.
Mr Bhebhe said Sunday’s rally was a demonstration that even the minority and the vulnerable had a voice.
Since its formation in 1999, the MDC has been synonymous with splits whenever party members disagreed.
In 2005, the party had its first split after Mr Tsvangirai opposed some of its senior leaders’ decision to participate in senatorial elections, leading to the formation of MDC-T and another MDC now led by Professor Welshman Ncube.
Subsequently, one of the party’s founding members Mr Job Sikhala further split from Ncube to form MDC-99.
The MDC-T split again in 2013 after the main opposition party dismally lost the elections, with members blaming Mr Tsvangirai for their loss and calling for a leadership renewal.
The split resulted in the formation of Mr Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party, while Mr Elton Mangoma formed the Reformed Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ).