Khupe eyes coalition pact with CCC as Matabeleland vote split fears weigh heavily

HARARE – Thokozani Khupe, the leader of a faction of the MDC-T party has set her sights on a coalition pact with the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), her spokesman said Wednesday.

Khupe, who met the CCC vice president Welshman Ncube over the weekend for informal talks, is convinced the ruling Zanu PF party can be defeated – but only if the opposition is united, said Ntandoyenkosi Ndlovu.

“We are of the view that to push out an authoritarian regime like Zanu PF, the opposition must unite and vote in numbers so that the will of the people is respected,” Ndlovu told ZimLive.

“The recent events in Zambia have shown us that when opposition forces come together and unite, it is possible to effect change. You will also appreciate that in the upcoming by elections, the MDC-T took a principled and deliberate position not to field candidates because we don’t want to further split the opposition vote.”

Khupe’s meeting with Ncube sent tongues wagging, with an overwhelming sentiment among CCC supporters that she could not be trusted for collaborating with Zanu PF in the past, harming the opposition’s chances.

The CCC party’s leaders are however thought to see Khupe as an effective campaigner, and are prepared to work with her in some capacity. Discussions have been held about the possibility of allowing her to run for MP, while keeping her away from leadership roles in any of the party’s organs.

Before Khupe’s meeting with Ncube, secretary general Charlton Hwende had reportedly held several discussions with her. CCC leader Nelson Chamisa encouraged the dialogue, ZimLive understands.

CCC deputy spokesman Gift Ostallos Siziba on Wednesday said Khupe was welcome to join the party as a member – if that is what she wants.

“We don’t know about Dr Khupe’s political trajectory and as CCC, a citizen-based movement, we welcome every citizen to join us,” Siziba told a press conference in Harare.

Khupe polled just over 45,000 votes in the presidential race in 2018, but her MDC-T party did some damage in parliamentary races in Matabeleland South and North through the splitting of votes.

In Matabeleland South, the MDC Alliance – which morphed into the CCC last month – won just one of 13 seats. Were it not for too many opposition candidates, including the MDC-T representatives, the MDC Alliance would have won three more seats.

In Matabeleland North, our analysis also shows that the MDC Alliance would have picked up another three seats for a combined six seats in the two provinces.

In Matobo South, Matabeleland South, Soul Ncube of Zanu PF won with 6,130 votes whereas the combined opposition votes were 6,369, of which 481 were for the MDC-T’s Athaliah Moyo.

In Gwanda South, Zanu PF’s Abedinico Ncube also triumphed because of divisions in the opposition. His 5,890 votes were dwarfed by the combined opposition vote of 6,182. The MDC-T’s Almar Sibanda accounted for 501 votes.

In Gwanda North, Madodana Sibanda of Zanu PF won with 4,419 votes, even as the combined opposition vote was 8,800. The MDC-T’s Younger Moyo claimed 1,081 votes in that race, behind independent Lungisani Ncube’s 3,510 votes and Beki Sibanda of the MDC Alliance with 3,300.

In Gwanda Central, the MDC Alliance won with an unnecessarily slim majority as its candidate Patrick Dube claimed 10,390 votes, edging Zanu PF’s Edison Gumbo who polled 9,460 votes. The combined opposition vote was 13,085.

In Matabeleland North province, Zanu PF’s Sithembile Gumbo carried Lupane East with 7,875 votes, beating the opposition whose combined total was 8,398. The MDC-T had 759 votes in a field of 12 candidates.

In Lupane West, the nine opposition candidates conspired to ensure their defeat when their combined 7,924 votes went to waste as Zanu PF’s Martin Khumalo squeaked through with 6,163 votes.

In Nkayi North, small and medium enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni polled 8,695 votes, edging the combined opposition’s 8,546 vote tally. In that race, the MDC-T clearly had the more popular candidate as Chief Ndlovu took 6,097 votes, relegating the MDC Alliance candidate Fiso Sibanda to a distant third with 1,507 votes.

In Nkayi South, Stars Mathe was let off by a divided opposition again as she won with 7,312 votes. The combined MDC-T and MDC Alliance vote of 10,570 would have overhauled her numbers. The 10 opposition candidates in the field had a combined 11,875 votes.

These are the numbers that have convinced the CCC leadership that it is far better to have some kind of electoral pact with Khupe, than risk throwing away the seats again.

The failure to win the six seats – and others elsewhere after the MDC Alliance fielded double candidates – allowed Zanu PF to build up a two thirds majority in parliament, which it used to amend the constitution, including giving the president sweeping new powers to extend the terms of superior court judges past their retirement age of 70.

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