MDC-T bigwigs bashed in Byo
Mashudu Netsianda Bulawayo Bureau
There was mayhem at MDC-T’s Bulawayo provincial headquarters yesterday when a group of youths allegedly linked to the opposition party’s leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai attacked top party officials accused of convening an unsanctioned meeting.
The officials, who were attacked shortly after 11am, include one of the party’s three deputy presidents Ms Thokozani Khupe, national organising secretary Mr Abednico Bhebhe and national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo.
Sources said about 20 youths linked to Mr Tsvangirai stormed the offices after sneaking in through the backyard.
They disrupted the meeting before hurling stones indiscriminately.
One party member, who was badly injured in the hour-long skirmishes, had to be hospitalised.
“It was a protracted war of some sort as thugs linked to our party president (Mr Tsvangirai) gained entry into the venue of the meeting and confronted Ms Khupe, accusing her of presiding over an unsanctioned meeting. They started exchanging harsh words with her resulting in a fight between two rival groups,” said the source.
The party’s offices were turned into a battlefield as Ms Khupe’s sympathisers fought back. Window panes at the party’s offices were extensively damaged and furniture turned upside down during the skirmishes.
The meeting reportedly resumed later.
When our news crew visited the scene of the clash, a handful of MDC-T youths had blocked the main entrance to the building while Ms Khupe and her allies were holed up inside for the better part of the day.
The pro-Tsvangirai group was reportedly riled by the controversial meeting, which was held under the auspices of the tripartite provincial executive comprising the leadership from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces.
Sources said the meeting, which was organised by Mr Bhebhe, sought to discuss issues around Saturday’s launch of an opposition coalition, which Ms Khupe, together with other top MDC-T officials, snubbed protesting Mr Tsvangirai’s alleged dictatorial tendencies.
Sources said Ms Khupe yesterday vented her anger over the manner her boss had treated her despite the sacrifices she had made for the party in Matabeleland.
“It is clear we are nothing in MDC-T. The party is what it is because of the Matabeleland vote, but this is how they treat us . . . My heart bleeds over this incident (attacks), especially noting all our sacrifices that made (Mr) Tsvangirai to be what he is today,” Ms Khupe was quoted as saying during the meeting, in what sources said could lead to another split in the party.
Mr Bhebhe confirmed that violence rocked the beleaguered opposition party at its Bulawayo offices yesterday.
“We are a democratic party and democracy should prevail. We are all shocked somebody sent a team from Harare to come and beat us up. That team came in the name of the party president,” he said.
He said they were planning to confront Mr Tsvangirai over yesterday’s incident.
“We are going to confront the president as to why he sent a team to beat us. We want to find out,” he said.
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said he was not aware of the incident.
Ms Khupe is on record as saying she is opposed to a coalition ahead of the 2018 elections, arguing that MDC-T does not need allies in Matabeleland.
She was quoted in the private media in February saying a coalition made sense in other parts of the country not in Matabeleland.
The much-touted launch of an opposition “coalition” degenerated into a farce on Saturday after top MDC-T officials snubbed the event.
A paltry crowd reportedly witnessed the event in Harare’s Highfield suburb where seven political party leaders signed a pact under the banner of the MDC Alliance.
The grouping has Transform Zimbabwe, Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Zimbabwe People First, the Multi-Racial Christian Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Party, MDC-T and Zanu Ndonga.
Though Mr Tsvangirai immediately assumed leadership, it emerged on Saturday that all was not well in his party amid indications he signed the pact without the blessings of his lieutenants.
Ms Khupe and other top officials did not attend the event following her earlier confrontation with Mr Tsvangirai over the alliance.
Mr Tsvangirai’s second deputy, Mr Nelson Chamisa, reportedly left midway through the ceremony where MDC-T supporters jeered Mr Biti as a “traitor”.
It is understood Ms Khupe confronted her principal last Friday, accusing him of dictatorship.
This was after Mr Tsvangirai secretly agreed with other “coalition” members on the distribution of council and parliamentary constituencies ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.
Sources said Mr Tsvangirai, under pressure from Western financiers and diplomats to form the alliance, could not face his anti-coalition lieutenants.