Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai unilaterally signed Memoranda of Understanding with some opposition political parties for a mooted coalition of opposition parties despite the fact that nine out of the party’s 15 provinces rejected the proposal during his tour of provinces.
This resulted in party leaders allegedly opposed to the coalition led by vice president Ms Thokozani Khupe boycotting last week’s signing of MoUs with National People’s Party leader Dr Joice Mujuru and Professor Welshman Ncube who fronts the MDC.
Mr Tsvangirai embarked on a whirlwind tour of provinces early this year to hear his supporters’ views on the proposed coalition.
Insiders say Ms Khupe’s faction mobilised the majority of provinces to reject the coalition, but Mr Tsvangirai forced the National Executive and National Council to embrace the proposed alliance.
“The majority of provinces rejected the coalition, but the president when he gave his feedback from the tours to the national executive and the national council, he made it clear that he wanted the coalition,” said a source.
“The provinces that rejected the coalition are Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, Bulawayo, Midlands North, Harare, Manicaland and the three provinces outside the country, which are South Africa, United States and the United Kingdom.
“Only six provinces endorsed the proposed coalition and these are Midlands South, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Chitungwiza.”
Another source said Mr Tsvangirai was likely to face stiff resistance when he reports back on the MoUs that he signed with Dr Mujuru and Prof Ncube.
The source said Ms Khupe’s faction was rabidly opposed to the coalition.
“Facts on the table are that Khupe’s faction has the majority of people who make up the national council, which is made up of party provinces. In this case, she has nine provinces against six. This means that if they want to insist on the no to coalition proposal, they have the majority vote.
“However, their challenge is that we don’t vote in the national council, so the president may still have his way.
“They do not want the coalition at all, which is why they did not bother attending the signing of the MoUs. On the first day, Khupe deployed party spokesperson, Obert Gutu, but withdrew him on the second day for the MoU with Welshman. If push comes to shove, Khupe’s faction can accept a coalition with Mujuru, but not with Welshman,” said the source.
Other senior officials alleged to belong to Ms Khupe’s faction include party national chairperson, Mr Lovemore Moyo, secretary-general, Mr Douglas Mwonzora and organising secretary, Mr Abednico Bhebhe.
The source claimed that if the coalition succeeded and in the event that the opposition won next year’s elections, Ms Khupe would be demoted with Dr Mujuru taking up the female Vice President position while Prof Ncube would be the Vice President representing Matabeleland region.
However, Mr Mwonzora and Mr Gutu shot down the claims of a feud within the rank and file of the party on the proposed coalition.
Said Mr Mwonzora: “It is incorrect and misrepresentation of facts to say there are provinces that are opposed to the coalition.
“Provinces in actual fact endorsed the proposed alliance or coalition. However, some of them proposed conditions for the coalition. For example, the fact that a coalition partner must be able to demonstrate value to the coalition.
“After the tour by the party president, he presented a report of his findings to the national executive and the national council who approved the coalition.
“It must be remembered that the issue of an alliance is actually a resolution of the 2014 MDC congress. So the president is acting within his mandate to sign the MoUs.”
Mr Mwonzora also dismissed claims that they boycotted the signing of the MoUs, claiming that they had prior commitments.
Mr Gutu said he was not into factionalism, saying there were no factions in MDC-T.
“I couldn’t attend the signing ceremony of the MoU between president Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Welshman Ncube because I had prior appointment with my doctor at the same time that the MoU was being signed.
“I even extended my apologies to president Tsvangirai and he was perfectly happy with my excuse,” said Mr Gutu.