HARARE – The MDC-T said it had suspended its vice president Thokozani Khupe and a senator Khaliphani Phugeni, but the duo said they did not recognise the suspensions.
Khupe and Phugeni were served suspension letters on January 12, but the announcement by the party was only made on Thursday, a few hours after Khupe gave notice of a press conference to be held in Bulawayo on Friday.
She is expected to turn the tables on party leader Douglas Mwonzora and declare that it is he who has expelled himself from the party by declaring, in writing, that he was leader of a party called the MDC Alliance.
MDC-T spokesman Witness Dube said Khupe would be summoned to appear before a disciplinary panel on two principal charges: allegedly sending one Kudzanai Mashumba to address a news conference where he accused Mwonzora or stealing party funds and taking the party to court while claiming that its national council passed a resolution to suspend her when, Dube insists, no such discussion ever took place.
Phugeni, meanwhile, is accused of setting up a parallel communications department focused on Khupe, when the party’s constitution has no provision for such.
Dube said Khupe and Phugeni would remain in parliament, at least for now, but they are barred from all party activities. He said should Khupe proceed with her press conference on Friday, that could constitute another charge.
Khupe’s lawyer Nqobani Sithole told ZimLive that the suspensions were “null and void.”
“We will be writing to Mwonzora in the morning (Friday). He recently wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission stating that he was leader of the MDC Alliance and by so doing he automatically expelled himself from the MDC-T. It follows that he cannot be making decisions while purporting to lead the MDC-T. This leaves Khupe and Elias Mudzuri as the co-acting presidents of the MDC-T,” Sithole said.
The latest showdown between Khupe and Mwonzora brings to a head simmering tensions that have existed since he won the leadership contest in December 2020. Khupe claimed the election was rigged and she has been unhappy ever since.