BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/MOSES MATENGA
Former deputy prime minister Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T yesterday said it is now known as the MDC Alliance in yet another dramatic twist in the battle for the control of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party.
Khupe’s group has in the last few months been purging legislators and councillors that insisted they were representing the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recently announced that by-elections to replace the recalled MDC Alliance legislators and councillors will be held on December 5.
Komichi said their outfit would contest the polls as MDC Alliance, a development that leaves Chamisa’s group in a quandary. So far 21 legislators and 84 councillors have been recalled.
“We are actually the MDC Alliance,” Komichi told The Standard in an interview to clarify his earlier pronouncements.
“Technically, the people we removed are MDC Alliance MPs and councillors so there will be a conflict of ideas if we use the MDC-T name. The MDC-T is our name, but we are trading in elections as MDC Alliance.
“Imagine if we were to have an MP under the MDC-T banner, how will that MP relate to our MPs now known as MDC Alliance MPs?”
Fadzayi Mahere, the MDC Alliance spokesperson, last night said the party would not change its identity.
“The party restates that it is the MDC Alliance party,” Mahere said in a communiqué after a meeting of the MDC Alliance national executive committee in Harare.
“It contested the 2018 election as the MDC Alliance. As the alternative, it has MPs in Parliament and councillors in local authorities.
“It has been victimised as the MDC Alliance and will win as the MDC Alliance. It will remain the MDC Alliance.”
Jameson Timba, the MDC Alliance secretary for presidential affairs, accused the Khupe group of working with the ruling Zanu PF to destroy the opposition.
“Those whom the gods want to destroy, they first make them mad. Very soon, their acting president will be calling herself Nelson Chamisa,” Timba said.
“Zanu PF is so afraid of Chamisa that it is imposing a person, who boycotted the MDC Alliance formation as a leader of the MDC Alliance party.
“They continue to lose sleep over his popular support. The political question will be decisively settled by the people.”
Zanu PF denies that it is backing the Khupe group. An MDC-T insider said the move to claim the MDC Alliance name followed concerns that the party would perform dismally in the by-elections as it was failing to get any traction.
The party was allegedly banking on Zanu PF agreeing to amend the constitution to stop by-elections and allow for Khupe’s backers to go to Parliament and councils through the back door.
The MDC Alliance was created ahead of the 2018 elections when then leader Morgan Tsvangirai invited Welshman Ncube of MDC, Tendai Biti of the People’s Democratic Party and Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe, among others, to forge an election coalition.
After the elections the coalition was transformed into a single political party and elected Chamisa as its leader.
In March, the Supreme Court ruled that Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the then MDC-T was unprocedural and ordered the holding of an extraordinary congress within three months to elect Tsvangirai’s successor.
The MDC Alliance insisted it had since moved on while legislators and councillors pledged their allegiance to Chamisa. Khupe, however, has used the judgement to purge her rivals, triggering a wave of by-elections.
George Makoni, a Harare-based political observer, said the MDC-T’s latest move showed that the group was now desperate.
“It is testimony of desperation on the part of Khupe and her cronies after having realised that they have no capacity to win an election,” Makoni said.
“Now that ZEC is announcing election dates, they are panicking knowing they don’t have people on the ground.
“They want to further cripple the MDC Alliance and, sadly, they stand to benefit Zanu PF deliberately or otherwise.”
A prominent Harare lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity described the MDC-T move as strange.
“It is strange that Khupe would claim the title MDC Alliance when in fact they are known at law to exist as MDC-T,” he said.
“They went to elections as MDC-T.”
Komichi said the party was confident of victory ahead of the by-elections necessitated by massive recalls of the MDC Alliance MPs and councillors by the MDC-T.
“We will win the elections, no doubt,” Komichi said.
Alexander Rusero, a political analyst, said it was time for Chamisa and his party to act.
“It is a strategic and practical necessity,” Rusero said. “You achieve two steps ahead by taking one step behind.”
Komichi told the gathering that popularity was not a factor in politics in apparent reference to Chamisa.uncement was made by MDC-T interim chairman Morgen Komichi during celebrations to mark the 21st