BULAWAYO – MDC-T faction leader Thokozani Khupe said it was “time to put the past behind us” as she declared herself a member of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), the new party that rose from the ruins of the Movement for Democratic Change, whose demise she accelerated.
Khupe and dozens of supporters turned up at a news conference in Bulawayo on Monday wearing CCC T-Shirts.
She pledged her support for CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, and dismissed those opposing her membership as “gatekeepers” who were not seeing the bigger picture that “to deliver real change… we must come together.”
She was launching a door-to-door campaign to drum up support for CCC candidates ahead of the March 26 by-elections, she added.
“We’re calling on all MDC-T members and supporters to go and vote on March 26 for CCC candidates across the country. By voting on March 26, we are building a strong foundation for a resounding victory in 2023,” Khupe said.
“I’m also calling on our members and supporters and citizens at large to go to every house, street and village and mobilise citizens to go out and vote in numbers for CCC candidates across the country.”
The former trade unionist was one of the founders of the MDC in 1999. The party split several times, the final schism coming in 2018 when she stood in elections as leader of the MDC-T after refusing to join the MDC Alliance led by Chamisa. A court later ruled that Chamisa had not followed the constitution in assuming leadership of the party following the death of founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February 2018.
The ruling led to recalls of MDC Alliance elected representatives from parliament and municipalities by Khupe’s MDC-T – largely the reason Zimbabwe is having what is being called a mini-general election with 28 parliamentary seats and 121 council seats up for grabs on March 26.
Khupe lost the MDC-T leadership to Douglas Mwonzora. In January, after Mwonzora said his party’s candidates will contest the by-elections as MDC Alliance, Khupe declared herself leader of the party, stating that Mwonzora had automatically expelled himself.
Mwonzora countered by suspending her from the party.
In a bold move, Chamisa announced the formation of the CCC, which has excited old and young people at massive campaign rallies across the country.
For many CCC supporters, Khupe’s clashes with Chamisa made her a Zanu PF Trojan horse and her admission into the CCC is a stain on the purity of the new movement.
“If people hate you, it means you’ve got something to offer,” Khupe countered. “In this new movement, the CCC, there’s no time for hating each because we don’t have that time. The time that we have right now is to come together, converge and take state power. Citizens must come together, let’s fight in one corner.
“Those trying to do gatekeeping, they don’t have any space in this movement where citizens are coming together. Our pre-occupation and focus right now must be to come together as citizens and put our past behind us and move forward towards the future where everyone will have a better life.”
Khupe has met senior CCC leaders in recent weeks including Chamisa, his deputy Welshman Ncube and secretary general Charlton Hwende.
A tireless campaigner, Khupe is unlikely to be given a CCC leadership role, although she might be considered as a National Assembly candidate in one of the seats the party lost in 2018, ZimLive understands.
Effectively ending her presidential bid and offering her supporters to the CCC, Khupe said she would back Chamisa’s presidential run in 2023, calling it a “defining moment for every citizen in this country.”
“It’s important that we come together, join hands and rally behind Chamisa because come 2023, there is no doubt that he’s going to be president of Zimbabwe,” Khupe said.
“We must unite, collectively we must deliver real change to the people of Zimbabwe and give them a better life. That can only happen if we come together, if we join hands and vote together on March 26.
“If you look at the name of the party, CCC, it means it’s citizens who’re coming together. It’s citizens who’re converging so that we take state power. So as MDC-T we’re also converging as citizens together with other citizens so that we form a formidable force so that will take state power in 2023. Only then can we guarantee our people jobs, food, clean water and sanitation, good health and education.”