Leader of the main opposition party, Nelson Chamisa claims he did not grab power in the MDC but stepped in after a vacuum was created following Dr Thokozani Khupe’s six-month absence from party meetings.
Speaking at the Bulawayo Media Centre Tuesday, the MDC leader said it was “lies” that he grabbed power from Dr Khupe, as she had ditched the party, and was not attending meetings after a rift developed between her and Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai, the party`s founding leader died on February 14, 2018.
“People always lie that Chamisa grabbed power when Tsvangirai died, no! Nature has a vacuum, we could not allow a vacuum to be there because there was supposed to be a leader who was going to act during Tsvangirai’s funeral,” he claimed.
Chamisa said the MDC leadership set to decide what to do at a meeting where Dr Khupe was invited to attend but did not come.
“She didn’t come because she actually had not been coming six months prior, as they had a big issue with Tsvangirai,” he alleged.
Asked to clarify what those issues Tsvangirai and Dr Khupe had, Chamisa said, “Ah it was a lot of issues. Khupe was not happy with the alliance (with other political parties ahead of the 2018 elections) so we tried, and it’s common cause, to adjudicate between Khupe and Tsvangirai. We said ‘Please Khupe come.’ Khupe said ‘I will never come to Tsvangirai’s house, we need a neutral venue, Tsvangirai said mhhh, it’s ok.”
Chamisa claimed he initially refused to be at the helm of the MDC when Tsvangirai suggested he wanted him to be the acting leader.
“When Tsvangirai said ‘Please Chamisa you must act, I said look, please, I don’t want to die early, let Khupe act. I am still young. I only had to act because there was a vacuum and we couldn’t be an embarrassment in front of international diplomats, showing a party that is disorganised,” he indicated.
The MDC leader said he was chosen after a vote by the party’s national council.
“This was a routine national council meeting, not convened for dealing with purposes of Tsvangirai’s death but just coincided with his death. We wanted to deal with other issues around (Elias) Mudzuri and myself,” he narrated.
Chamisa said he had to clarify his position so that people know he did not grab power.
“Bulawayo you are every lucky today, you found me off my guard, and I am saying these issues openly, which is very important,” he said.
The MDC leader said he had tried to engage with Khupe numerous times, even to the extent of reaching out to Khupe’s religious leader from the Roman Catholic Church.
highlighted it would be more difficult to reach out to her now, seeing the
“proximity” that had been established between Khupe and President Emmerson
“It is so difficult, especially now I see that ED has stolen my sister. She’s spending more time with ED and I am worried about that, I am genuinely worried. We come a long way with Thokozani but when I see the proximity, that is something worrisome to me.
“The last time I saw them at the farm (Mnangagwa’s farm at Kwekwe), my heart ached. I wish I could invite Thoko, to my rural home, I don’t have a farm but I wish I could do the same,” Chamisa said.
He noted it would be good for his party to work with Khupe “because to add is to strengthen and to subtract is to weaken and there’s no individual who is less important so I will continue to reach out, hopefully, she still believes there is going to be rapprochement and I hope that it works.”
Reached for comment, Khupe’s spokesperson, Khaliphani Pugeni, rubbished these claims and said Chamisa flouted the then MDC-T constitution.
“For starters, MDC-T has a constitution, which is regulated and is not about someone becoming one’s favourite person to take after in a succession and the process Chamisa is speaking is not how it is in the constitution. These matters were exhausted in court, were the Bulawayo and Harare high courts made judgments that Dr Khupe is standing on strong legal footing whereas the other is standing on mobocracy,” Pugeni said.
He refuted Khupe had boycotted going to Tsvangirai’s house, meetings and added she was one who even brought his corpse to Zimbabwe from South Africa.
“If Dr Khupe was in foul of constitutional provisions by not attending meetings, the party could have acted but up to today, the party didn’t act until he usurped power through violence and now has come up with all excuses. The only meetings, she could not attend were those called by Chamisa or Mudzuri as they were unconstitutional but any constitutional meeting called by Tsvangirai, she attended.”
Pugeni said Chamisa reached out once to Khupe where “he made demands to say she was going to do as he says or he will unleash his boys on her. Dr Khupe was then hunted like a wild animal, not only physically but also in a violent social media campaign. She was put into groups she did not want to receive messages. I don’t think anyone at this time can be fooled by Chamisa’s claims.”