Join Polad or get beaten: Khupe to Chamisa

Nelson Chamisa

BY Moses Matenga

MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe, who is a member of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) says rival MDC leader Nelson Chamisa should join the group and stop demonstrations to save his members from being bitten up by the police.

Khupe also pleaded with the Western countries that have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to forgive Mnangagwa, who is accused of human rights abuses, give him a second chance, and treat him the way the United States and European countries treated other governments.

“We were still going to engage, to go to the United States to meet those people who actually are involved, but we can’t because of COVID-19, but we are appealing to the Americans to say as Zimbabweans, give us a second chance as a country. Zimbabwe requires assistance; we need bail out to restart our economy,” Khupe said.

Zimbabwe’s human rights record has seen the country continue to suffer isolation, with Western countries demanding reforms from Mnangagwa before sanctions imposed on the country at the turn of the century can be lifted.

The MDC-T leader, long accused by the Chamisa-led MDC of siding with Mnangagwa and receiving funding from the ruling party for her presidential elections in 2018, was speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of a Polad meeting in Harare last Friday.

Khupe, who is head of a Polad sub-committee on international re-engagement, said only dialogue can serve the MDC from police beatings and arrests. The Chamisa-led opposition party is currently mobilising to protest against the deteriorating economy.

“I am not saying people should not demonstrate,” Khupe said. “I am saying people must use demonstrations as a last resort, but now, there is an opportunity for us to come together and dialogue about those same issues our colleagues are raising.

“For me, it is better for us to dialogue than to subject our members to police beatings, police brutality and to arrests because if you do demonstrations, those are the after-effects of demonstrations.”

She added: “If you sit around the table and you dialogue, it is leaders talking to each other to say no, Your Excellency, the route you are taking is not the right one; please take this way. For me, I would like to urge all my colleagues to say, for us to avoid these human rights abuses, let us talk to each other instead of doing all these other things.”

Khupe, who deputised the late MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai for 10 years, parted ways with Chamisa in 2018 after she lost the political battle to lead the MDC. She was the presidential candidate for the MDC-T, but lost dismally to Chamisa, who refused to accept a narrow loss to Mnangagwa. The MDC-T leader has a pending court case, in which she is seeking to be declared the bona fide leader of the MDC. Former MDC-T spokesperson, Linda Masarira, now leading her own opposition party, recently claimed Khupe was receiving funding from Mnangagwa.

Chamisa snubbed the call to join Polad, refusing to endorse Mnangagwa whom he accused of rigging the 2018 general elections. Since the elections, Chamisa has led several protests against Mnangagwa.

The MDC announced last week that they would join hands with progressive forces to mobilise protests against Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is also mobilising for protests against Mnangagwa’s government over the deteriorating economy characterised by hyperinflation.