POLICE in Bulawayo have refused to sanction a meeting organised by MDC-T deputy president, Thokozani Khupe, citing inadequate manpower.
BY Everson Mushava/Obey Manayiti
Khupe was expected to hold a meeting today, with Bulawayo district structures at the Bulawayo Amphitheatre, but the police said they do not have enough manpower to provide security, as the event coincided with International Cricket Council World Cup qualifiers in the country’s second city.
Khupe’s personal assistant, Witness Dube confirmed the development, saying the meeting, which was supposed to be held today will have to be pushed to a later date.
“The police cited that the cricket match, taking place on the same day, and that would leave them with insufficient manpower to cover a political meeting on the same day,” he said.
“We agreed to have our meeting pushed forward because we are desperate for police security, given the appetite for violence by our colleagues.”
Last weekend, violence broke out between Khupe’s supporters and those backing MDC-T president, Nelson Chamisa after the former held a private meeting at the party’s provincial headquarters.
Chamisa’s backers allegedly stormed the meeting and clashes between the two camps left many injured and others hospitalised.
About 15 party members have been arrested in connection with the violence.
The Bulawayo violence followed similar incidents at the burial of party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai in Buhera last month, where Khupe was forced to seek refuge in a hut belonging to the former Premier’s neighbours, as she fled violence.
Dube said the police were afraid the meeting would turn violent and with their staff occupied by the ongoing cricket match, it would be impossible for them to have adequate manpower.
Bulawayo province has 12 districts, according to MDC-T structures and each district assembly has about 126 members, meaning more than 1 000 were expected at Khupe’s meeting.
Khupe and Chamisa have been squabbling over the leadership of the MDC-T.
Khupe claims she is the bona fide leader following Tsvangirai’s death, as she was elected at congress, while the party’s national council appointed Chamisa.
Tsvangirai’s deputy of 12 years risks being fired from the MDC-T after the party’s national council threw its weight behind Chamisa and gave her a seven-day ultimatum to embrace his leadership or face the axe, but she does not seem to be backing down.
Meanwhile, the MDC-T seems uncertain on what action to take against Khupe, following the expiry of a seven-day ultimatum.
Hawks aligned to Chamisa are calling for her suspension, pending expulsion, arguing that keeping Khupe would create confusion, while others prefer a settlement that will not leave the party in a weak position.
The party’s national council issued an ultimatum to Khupe, national chairman, Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, who had been absenting themselves from party meetings over a litany of disgruntlements.
MDC-T presidential spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said the party leaders were looking into matter.
“Leadership is currently seized with that issue, but ordinarily the national council resolution, the constitutional processes must immediately kick upon the expiry of the seven-day moratorium if nothing happens,” he said.
“What I know for certain is that the presidency is seized with that issue and the presidency will be communicating to the world about the matter in due course.”
The party’s deputy chairman, Morgen Komichi said the engagement process was still underway, although the party can still act against Khupe.
“The engagement process is going ahead. We have emissaries that are working very hard to find common ground and our greatest wish is that madam Khupe came and works with others as a family member so that we confront our opponent Zanu PF as a united family,” he said.
“We need to be hopeful and if it fails we will then stand guided by the resolution of the standing council.
“As individuals, we don’t have the mandate to change the resolution.”
This came amid reports that the party has not yet served its spokesperson, Obert Gutu with a suspension letter.
Gutu said the correct procedure on suspending an official was not followed and he remained the bona fide spokesperson.