Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
MDC-T has effectively split following violence that rocked its Bulawayo province during a meeting attended by supporters of a rival faction led by Dr Thokozani Khupe yesterday.
The violence erupted during Dr Khupe, national organising secretary Abednego Bhebhe and national spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu’s consultative meeting with the party’s structures in Bulawayo.
When the three senior opposition party officials were consulting party structures in Bulawayo, MDC Alliance led by newly confirmed MDC-T president Advocate Nelson Chamisa was holding a rally in Chinhoyi.
Dr Khupe insists that she is the party’s president.
Asked if the party had split Khupe said: “what do you think? You can judge for yourself.”
Yesterday’s incident follows skirmishes that occurred during the burial of MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai in Buhera two weeks ago.
In Buhera, Dr Khupe alleged that “mercenaries” sent by Adv Chamisa wanted to kill her for being a stumbling block in his ascendancy.
Yesterday’s violence lasted for about two hours as rival factions engaged in running battles.
Fort Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue where the MDC-T offices are, was literally turned into a war zone as party supporters fought pitched battles.
The supporters were using stones and logs to attack each other and Dr Khupe’s personal assistant, Mr Witness Dube was among those injured in the fracas.
The windows of Dr Khupe’s Landrover Discovery were smashed and property at the party’s offices was also destroyed.
The anti-riot police had to be called in and the situation only returned to normal after the police dispersed the crowd which had gathered at the offices.
Dr Khupe bemoaned the acts of violence saying those who were behind the havoc were cowards who are afraid to compete freely.
“I’m short of words, I’ve never seen such violent acts. This is what we have always been talking about that the MDC was formed on the foundation of a constitution and on the foundation of non-violence. We have never seen such kind of violence involving party supporters before,” said Dr Khupe.
“How do you attack people who are just gathered to organise themselves. If you are popular why are you not going to campaign to the people and get those votes? Why do you have to beat up people, why do you have to injure people? Why do you have to vandalise offices and cars?”
Dr Khupe said people who attacked them yesterday were part of the people who attacked her in Buhera.
“Remember we were assaulted in Buhera, these are the same people who are behind this violence. We were assaulted in this same office last year in August now they have followed us again,” she said.
Dr Khupe scoffed at the seven-day ultimatum given to her to return to the party or risk disciplinary action.
“That is what I call absolute nonsense, I am an elected acting president of the MDC and no one gives me an ultimatum except Congress. Congress is the only body that can give that ultimatum not any other person,” said Dr Khupe.
Mr Gutu who recently hinted on quitting MDC-T, made a U-turn yesterday saying he is still the party’s national spokesperson.
He condemned the violence as barbaric.
“A bunch of thugs armed with stones, knives, logs, iron bars, come from nowhere and start attacking people. I saw two or three people badly injured. They were people who were throwing stones on the roof, breaking window panes. There is blood on the floor, its total mayhem. If these are the people who think that they can take Zimbabwe to the next level, my foot!” he said.
Mr Gutu also said he has not been suspended as he has not received official communication to that effect.
“I have not been suspended. I’m still here as Obert Gutu the official spokesperson for the MDC. A bogus national council meeting has no powers to suspend me, I haven’t been suspended, I haven’t received a letter of suspension and no one has the capacity to write me a letter of suspension,” said Mr Gutu.
He said the MDC-T should investigate the root cause and also identify the funders of the violence.
Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent