Khupe’s departure unfortunate, but necessary

Learnmore Zuze

I recall vividly the year 2000, when the Movement for Democratic Change broke onto the political scene scaring the hell out of a complacent Zanu PF. It had never happened in the annals of Zimbabwean history that an opposition party wrests half of the parliamentary seats from the ruling party, as the newly formed party would go on to do.

By Learnmore Zuze

It had always been a case of one or two regional seats taken away from Zanu PF, but here was something new. Here was something that the country had never witnessed before and it caught Zanu PF offguard, triggering a spate of political violence against the opposition. Former heavyweights in Zanu PF fell headlong to virtual political nonentities; people who had no political clout and were unknown before.

I was in Bulawayo at the time. In some small high-density known as Nguboyenja was a parliamentary seat that a light complexioned young woman sought to fill in the 2000 elections. Her name was Thokozani Khupe who, at the time, was understood to be a National Railways of Zimbabwe employee. She would mobilise support for her small gatherings in an old soccer field close by. In the run-up to the watershed 2000 parliamentary elections, she would be seen addressing a small gathering near Makokoba; she could be seen near Nguboyenja articulating her vision for the constituency.

Many who passed-by to see this seemingly pitiful gathering never thought they were seeing the future legislator of the constituency. It was only after the election results were announced that reality dawned upon many that what seemed like child-play had turned out to become serious business. Khupe was now a lawmaker. She was to rise significantly within party ranks to become the very second-in-command to Morgan Tsvangirai. It was all like a fairy tale.

A lot was to happen along the way, politically. Hundreds of then MDC supporters died in politically-motivated violence across the country. She witnessed all this. She was also not spared from the repressive laws that barred largely the opposition from holding gatherings. Khupe endured a lot. She also saw how the party leadership was brutalised and jailed at one time. Her commitment to the cause remained resolute, leading to her becoming the party’s vice-president. But fast forward to today and Khupe is now out of MDC- T, a party which she gave a lot for. A solution should have been found.

Events leading to her being expelled are many, but it boils down to one thing: her obstinacy in refusing to accept that Nelson Chamisa is the new party leader. I would have expected madam Khupe to co-operate with the inevitable and move forward. She was never going to win it against Chamisa. In politics, what counts is the grassroots support not the mantra of having been elected at congress. This, however, is not to undermine democracy, but it should have been obvious to Khupe how the winds were blowing, whoever was advising her.

MDC-T party president, Chamisa, though vilified by some in the party, went out of his way to ensure Khupe comes back into the fold. The major objective, as Chamisa rightly pointed out, was to win the elections and present a united opposition, an idea which Khupe spurned even when Tsvangirai was alive. Khupe apparently never warmed up to the idea of an MDC Alliance. On the contrary, Tsvangirai wanted this unity with the ultimate goal of transforming Zimbabwe.

It is against this background that indeed developments in the MDC-T are quite sad. Sad because this was not how we all expected the script to unfold. Even the late MDC-T founder Tsvangirai would have hoped for a united front that would be formidable with potential to carry the democratic struggle forward. Most people had hoped for a situation where the MDC-T leadership would come to an amicable solution and start to hit the ground running with a few months left for the general elections.

Nonetheless, like they say, some things in life simply can’t be rectified despite all efforts, Khupe, a founding member of the united MDC, alongside Obert Gutu,now former party spokesperson and others have decided to leave the party in standing for what they call party constitutionalism.

Khupe and others like her in thought should have seen the bigger picture of the struggle. I will repeat, politics here is not theoretical or bookish, it is practical. Khupe should have been reasonable enough. She should have known better. She saw the demise of many party heavy weights who took the same route, only to come back into the fold at a later and inconvenient stage.

It’s unfortunate that Khupe decided to remain headstrong and became an outcast. She left the party with no option and indeed, her departure was unfortunate but necessary. The MDC-T under Chamisa must forge ahead with the task at hand and fulfil its vision for the country.

 Learnmore Zuze is a law officer and writes in his own capacity. E-mail


  1. As much as i agree with you on the first part of your sommary where you said a solution should have been found.

    My opinion is that a solution should have been found if all parties were willing to listen to each other (VP`s- Chamisa,Khupe & Mudzuri).People would have then weighed their options within the session and see what makes good political mileage. Honerstly speaking, i thing the MDC alliance thing is nonsense. MDC-T had a very good chance of going it alone in this election and coming out victorious. In this case,they have devided their vote and also created some confusion in some constituencies. Some voters do not really understand this animal called “Alliance”. There is need to quickly educate the people on the ground otherwise MDC will shoot themselve in the foot. A better strategy woulkd have to retain their current constituencies and penetrate the ZANU PF areas. 100+ rather than 100- is a better position. Now there are starting from -100 and build the lost seats before securing the Zanu pf seats. More work. Then th other issues of Presidency, i guess a compromise would have been reached

  2. Zuze you put it right, politics is not bookish its practical and its about numbers too. Khupe while she endured a lot she and has lost the leadership, she must not loose the lesson that go with the experience.When she despised the political godfather Tsvangirai on the alliance issue, in the peoples minds she fell from grace. Tsvangirai could have been patient with her as all good leaders would but the masses are less forgiving and they have long memories too, simply put she is a rebel a bad one for that matter and not the slightest match to this young hurricane called Chamisa. How dirty can politics be?

  3. Within the confines of the party constitution what Chamisa did was perfectly correctly never mind the huge flaw in that constitution. That said the Khupe notion is all about interpretation(Deputy to her means a voted candidate) and not fact. She can not rely on the morality of the actions by Chamisa more that its legality. Had she been strategic enough she should have caused the National Council to convene and confirm the true meaning of the constitution where it talked about the the Deputy to take over . Does she imply that and amendment is of less authority that the other pieces of legislation

  4. Hog wash article, Women are always belittled in MDC. Bullying a woman into submission is not democratic. Chamisa can as well kiss the female vote goodbye.

  5. Stupid analysis indeed. You cant overlook democracy just for the sake of change. Chamisa might have those abilities for change but to what direction will that change go, towards democracy or worse than Mugabes dictatorship? It shows writer has no bigger vision but after just change. I suggest choosing a leader democratically through the congress would have given people hope. But installing a leader by some individuals on behalf of the masses will always be a problem. To me obeying the masses and their vote

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