In a twist of events that was almost predictable, Dr. Thokozani Khupe, who has all along maintained that she is still the official leader of the Movement for Democratic Change T (MDC-T) yesterday attended the first Bulawayo provincial meeting of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) addressed by the new party’s president Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
In a very charged and volatile atmosphere where the CCC youth members initially barred Khupe and her delegation from entering the MacDonald’s Hall, her political home ground in past elections, Mr. Chamisa defied popular sentiments by his party members and demanded that Dr. Khupe be allowed into the venue.
Not long after, clad in party colors, Dr. Khupe tweeted a picture where she wrote the following caption “Today I attended my first meeting as a CCC member addressed by President Chamisa in Bulawayo Macdonald Hall #KhupesaysVoteforCCC” This undoubtedly and immediately got her trending with many users of the platform who support CCC expressing mixed feelings about her latest move which they say is just a ploy to get a leadership seat in the new and popular opposition party.
Thokozani Khupe is accused by many who were in the former MDC Alliance (MDC A) of destroying the opposition’s momentum by recalling 32 MDC A MPs from parliament and 165 Councilors, forcing the recently held by-elections to be staged after a 2-year delay due to COVID-19 protocols. Interestingly enough she urged her supporters to vote for Nelson Chamisa’s CCC candidates in the polls held on 26 March 2022.
In a voice note that circulated a few hours after the Bulawayo Provincial meeting, an unknown woman is heard complaining that allowing Dr. Khupe and the likes of Professor Welshman Ncube to be part of the CCC leadership ranks representing Bulawayo, would be a disaster as they would sideline citizens of Shona heritage from running for office in Bulawayo and Matabeleland regions.
On Twitter, one user wrote, “If Khupe gets near Nero ever again inini I’m out. Enough sellouts surrounding Nero already. What’s to stop dhaghie from coming in n given a position near Nero? What’s to stop them from destroying CCC? Zvazve ma games kana zvadero. Some of us were tortured and beaten then tobuda hedu”. The CCC supporter was expressing discontent at what he termed “sellouts” like Dr. Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora joining the CCC ranks and destroying it from within, saying they had gone through a lot of hardships and would rather leave the party if Khupe and others joined.
Advocate Nelson Chamisa has repeated on numerous occasions that the CCC is a citizens’ project where anyone from any party is allowed to join and become part of the new movement. The push against Dr. Khupe would seem like a contradiction to this as she has expressed willingness to join as an ordinary member without seeking a leadership position. Whether her becoming a CCC member means she is stepping down from the MDC T leadership and urging her supporters to follow suit, is not yet certain but appears highly likely.
Political analysts from Matabeleland have said ignoring Dr. Khupe and the influence she wields in the Matabeleland region would be folly for any opposition party seeking a national mandate. They argue that Matabeleland and Bulawayo voting patterns have shown that citizens in this part of the country are swayed by different motives to vote and ignoring local political movements and individuals would be a wrong move.
Dr. Khupe got slightly above 45 600 votes in the 2018 general polls, a small fraction of the total vote, yes, but could make a significant difference if the opposition were to vote with one voice. While a very controversial figure, Dr. Khupe has proven herself one of the most tactical and strategic female politicians in Zimbabwe’s recent history. This may be one of the reasons why Advocate Chamisa has chosen to work with rather than against her.