By Amelia Johnson|
Now Daily Investigation|
Daggers are drawn between supporters of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) president Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe after she made bold new moves to upstage him and take over the party presidency, it emerged.
So bad are the tensions that some senior officials aligned to Tsvangirai – the same cabal that used massive violence to drive former secretary-general Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma, out of the party – has been heard planning similar action against Khupe.
Apparently, Khupe has been consolidating her hold on the party since the October congress at which her allies snapped up top posts. Party insiders say Khupe has been using the harvest from the congress to strengthen her power base. The former deputy prime minister, MP for Makokoba and ex-railway trade unionist has played second fiddle to the charismatic Tsvangirai for over a decade. However, she is now being nudged by her powerful backers to step into the limelight and target the presidency of both party and country, sources said. Khupe, an information technology graduate from Italy’s Turin College and holder of a media degree, has kept her cards close to her chest since she succeeded former party deputy president Gibson Sibanda in 2005. Stepping into the chaos created by the departure of Sibanda and others to join the Welshman Ncube formation, she quickly wormed her way into Tsvangirai’s confidences. Tsvangirai trusted her, considering her a lightweight brought in for gender and Matabeleland window dressing. However, the departure of Biti and Mangoma, in which she allegedly played a significant, (some say violent) role, changed all that.
Party insiders say Khupe worked hard to ensure that her own allies pipped Tsvangirai loyalists – by hook or by crook – to get key posts at the congress. Among the top officials now fighting from Khupe’s corner are:
* secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, who mysteriously beat Tsvangirai ally Nelson Chamisa;
* treasurer-general Theresa Makone, who pipped Tapiwa Mashakada, another Tsvangirai buddy;
* women’s assembly chairperson Eunice Karenyi, who beat Lilian Timveos, a Tsvangirai loyalist and significant party sponsor;
* organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe.
At congress, Khupe allegedly used party funds diverted by Makone to buy votes for her allies.
Khupe also controls the party’s MPs as deputy chief whip and is a point person for many party donors.
Tensions are said to have reached boiling point with Khupe and her allies determining the cash-strapped party’s financial priorities. Some party workers complained they were unpaid because of their perceived loyalty to the former prime minister.
Another source said under an arrangement being proposed by some potential donors, Tsvangirai would relinquish the party presidency to Khupe and become her deputy for a new round of funding to be approved.
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