‘MDCT Matebeleland to form splinter party’

A WhatsApp message circulating among MDC-T supporters yesterday indicated Ms Khupe was going to form a splinter party, deputised by Mr Moyo and Mr Bhebhe.

“ . . . to form own party and appoint Khupe as president, Lovemore and Bhebhe as deputies. The three leaders to urgently engage the grassroots with this message. All from the region to boycott national council meetings. NB: We went to the meeting without knowing the agenda. This is what transpired at the meeting,” read some of the resolutions allegedly arrived at, at a meeting the three convened in Bulawayo on Sunday, after the brutal assault.

Party insiders yesterday insisted the looming split was real because Mr Tsvangirai had repeatedly sidelined party leaders in Matabeleland and seemed hell bent on eventually easing them out of the MDC-T.

“The alliance is meant to disadvantage and politically condemn the region and its leaders by replacing them with (MDC leader Professor) Welshman (Ncube),” further read alleged minutes from the meeting.

Party members who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mr Tsvangirai should be persuaded to amend the conditions of the coalition agreement and revoke sections that gave Prof Ncube power to field candidates unopposed by the MDC-T in some constituencies in the region.

They said leaders in Matabeleland must not recognise the coalition agreement in its present form but should field candidates of their own to contest against Prof Ncube, if Mr Tsvangirai remained obstinate.

In an interview yesterday, Mr Bhebhe denied that they were planning to form a splinter party.

He said although they made resolutions on Sunday, they had nothing to do with leaving the party.

“We saw the message. It started circulating yesterday. It could have been created by the same people who were probably involved in sending people to assault us. Those messages are a fallacy; it’s the same people sending the youth to cause mayhem in the party. We are not going anywhere. We are going to argue our position in the party,” he said.

On Sunday, Mr Bhebhe accused Mr Tsvangirai of hiring the thugs that caused mayhem on Sunday.

“We are a democratic party and democracy should prevail. We are all shocked somebody sent a team from Harare to come and beat us up. That team came in the name of the party president,” he said then.

Mr Bhebhe said they were pro-alliance but it does not make sense for the party to be making a coalition with people who have been part of the MDC-T in previous instances.

He said an alliance with Prof Ncube’s MDC will not grow the party.

Mr Bhebhe said it will be better for the MDC-T to form alliances with other parties who are likely to bring new members to the party.

“It’s better to bring [Joice] Mujuru who is going to bring people who were not in the MDC previously. It’s better to join with ZimPF as they can bring people from Zanu-PF. We should have an alliance that should boost the party instead of having an alliance to accommodate other politicians,” said Mr Bhebhe.

Mr Moyo said as the party leadership, they will stay focused and prepare for next year’s elections.

“Such incidents don’t mean anything to us. They’ll not deter us from working for the party and preparing for the elections. We’ll not allow negative elements to divide us and destroy the party,” he said.

He said it was unfortunate that some members of the party were concentrating on fighting and destroying it at such a critical time.

“This was an important meeting for the party and as usual we wanted to discuss issues to do with coalition and update our leadership on the decision made on July 28, 2017 by the leadership.

“It was important that as leadership we explain the coalition between our party and other opposition parties. We also wanted legal opinion on the implications of the entire document,” said Mr Moyo.

He refused to comment on suggestions that the rowdy youths who attacked them were sent by Mr Tsvangirai but confirmed they came from Harare.

The party’s spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu said reports of a split were just rumours.

He added that investigations were underway to establish the reasons for the violent attacks.

“I don’t want to dignify rumours. It’s not true and it’s not worth discussing. We condemn the violent attacks that occurred in Bulawayo.

“Internal investigations are underway and due process will be followed once they’re complete. Those responsible for the violence will be dealt with appropriately through the party’s disciplinary structures,” said Mr Gutu. agencies