FROMER Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe was in Harare on Tuesday for the official opening of Parliament, but snubbed a party caucus held at the MDC-T’s Harvest House headquarters in central Harare, NewsDay can reveal.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Khupe is the leader of the opposition in Parliament, but has fallen out with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai over a plan to form a coalition with other democratic forces ahead of elections expected next year.
“She was at Parliament, but did not attend the party caucus. She probably did that because it is obvious that party thugs would have pounced on her. Khupe’s fears are genuine and must be addressed,” a senior MDC-T official said.
Khupe was attacked after rogue party youth stormed a meeting she was addressing along with MDC-T national chairman, Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe. Bhebhe has since been suspended along with party deputy treasurer, Chalton Hwende as well as a number of youth over the violence in Bulawayo last month.
The youth attacked Khupe and her colleagues accusing the group of working against Tsvangirai’s plan for a broad alliance. Khupe and her colleagues had boycotted a meeting of the MDC Alliance that brings together seven parties among them former secretary-generals Welshman Ncube’s MDC and Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said he was yet to get the finer details on the issue.
“I have heard rumours that she did not attend, but I saw her in Parliament although from a distance. There was a party caucus and as leader of the opposition in Parliament she would have attended, but I cannot say, as of now, whether the caucus was held before or after the official opening or whether she attended,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Khupe were fruitless yesterday.
Insiders told NewsDay that Tsvangirai, who had been expected to attend, also did not pitch.
“He did not attend. There was no explanation, we were just told that he was busy,” an MP said on condition of anonymity.
But the former Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said Tsvangirai had sent a message with his two other deputies, Elias Mudzuri and Nelson Chamisa.
“He was preoccupied with something, so he sent his message with his deputies, Chamisa and Mudzuri. It is an internal process that has nothing to do with outsiders. The president was represented,” Tamborinyoka said.
Khupe, Moyo and Bhebhe are reportedly arguing that Tsvangirai did not consult them and party structures in the western regions of the country before inking a pre-electoral pact with MDC leader Ncube.
Khupe has also demanded a meeting with Tsvangirai on “neutral” territory after a planned engagement early this week at the former Prime Minister’s residence was aborted at the 11th hour.