Harare (New Ziana) – Seemingly forgetting her near-death experience at the hands of Nelson Chamisa’s violent supporters at the funeral of Morgan Tsvangirai in February 2018, Thokozani Khupe has endorsed the Citizen’s Coalition for Change (CCC), Chamisa’s new party, ditching her own MDC-T faction in favour of her former nemesis, who once described her as a “wayward politician” at the height of their factional fights.
Khupe was desperate for a new home after being chased from the Douglas Mwonzora led MDC-T early this year, after long-standing tensions boiled over in the struggle for the control of the opposition party.
Donning CCC regalia, Khupe told a press conference on Monday in Bulawayo that she would galvanise support for CCC candidates in the upcoming by-elections and next year’s general elections, but it was not immediately clear if she had been admitted into the party.
She has, however, been recently pictured with top CCC leaders, including Chamisa’s vice, Welshman Ncube, in a clear sign of her intentions to re-connect with her erstwhile colleagues.
At Monday’s press conference, Khupe declared: “Following our previous announcement that we are going to work with like-minded opposition political parties because we are stronger together, I am therefore today announcing that we are calling on all MDC-T members and supporters to go and vote on the 26th of March for the Citizens Coalition for Change candidates across the country.”
Asked what becomes of her own party, Khupe said: “It is citizens who are coming together; it is citizens who are converging so we are able to take state power so as MDC-T we are also converging together with other citizens so that we form a formidable force which is going to take state power in 2023.”
But, given that she does not have significant numbers in tow, analysts contend that her endorsement of Chamisa is a non-event.
“This endorsement is coming from a spent force to another old soldier who has been in the trenches for a long time. It is more of a calling to a union amongst perennial losers,” political analyst Gibson Nyikadzino told New Ziana.
“Someone is trying to resuscitate her political career so it (the endorsement) does not have much of an impact because she is no longer relevant to the political scene as it is and also because she is now clutching by the straw for her survival.”
Nyikadzino said Khupe’s endorsement of Chamisa would not change the political dynamics in the country.
“There is someone’s survival at stake so to gain traction Thokozani Khupe is saying I should endorse Nelson Chamisa, but what is she bringing to the table? An endorsement will not equal a coalition because she does not have anything,” he said.
Khupe, who has seemingly mastered the art of flip-flopping, is considered a divisive figure and is not likely to be welcomed into the CCC with open arms, given the prominent role she played in dismantling their old party, the MDC-T.
Khupe was temporarily in charge of the MDC-T after a court ruled that Chamisa illegally foisted himself as party leader following the death of MDC-T founding president Tsvangirai in 2018, and ordered the party to revert to its 2014 leadership structures.
At the 2014 congress, Chamisa was elected party secretary for policy coordination, a position he held until he was illegally appointed one of three party vice presidents by Tsvangirai shortly before he died.
The appointment to the vice-presidency, made simultaneously with that of Elias Mudzuri, was also quashed by the courts.
The Supreme Court ruling, instigated by Chamisa himself, effectively handed control of the MDC-T back to Khupe, the third and only party vice president to have been elected at the 2014 congress.
While Tsvangirai was still to be buried, Khupe was outmaneuvered by Chamisa for the party presidency and the two subsequently broke ranks – Khupe retaining one faction of the MDC-T, and Chamisa taking the other to form MDC Alliance with other earlier MDC-T prodigal sons Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube.
But the Supreme Court ruling swung the power pendulum back in Khupe’s favour, who gleefully embraced it and carried out a ruthless root and branch leadership cull, and party reforms.
Khupe was, however relegated to the vice presidency after being beaten to the party’s presidency by Mwonzora at congress, resulting in a fresh power struggle.
During her short-lived union with Mwonzora, Khupe was appointed leader of the opposition in Parliament.
Upon being expelled from the party and Parliament early this year, Khupe shot back and announced a splinter MDC-T, installing herself as leader, as the drama in the opposition continued to play out.