A protester holds a weapon during an Movement for Democratic Change march in Bulawayo. Picture: AFP PHOTO/ZINYANGE AUNTONY
A protester holds a weapon during an Movement for Democratic Change march in Bulawayo. Picture: AFP PHOTO/ZINYANGE AUNTONY

Harare — Thokozani Khuphe, one of the vice-presidents in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that was led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, announced at the weekend a split from the party. This is the third split of the MDC over the last 13 years. It first split in 2005 and then in 2014, led by Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti, respectively.

Khuphe cited "violence and a refusal "to adhere to the constitution" as the reason for the breakaway from the MDC that is currently led by Nelson Chamisa.

Chamisa’s rise to be the party head in February has been deeply contentious, as he was endorsed by the national council. The council overlooked Khuphe, who was elected as Tsvangirai’s deputy at the 2014 elective party congress.

Khuphe says she should be the rightful party leader as she was elected by MDC supporters, while Chamisa is merely an appointee. Tsvangirai in 2016 appointed Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as his vice-presidents, a move that was largely viewed as an attempt to scuttle Khuphe’s rise.

"We have come a long way with our colleagues. However, they seem to have taken a different path. A path, which is against and does not respect the constitution," Khuphe told supporters gathered for a rally. "We will not stand with those who have opted to use violence, defy the constitution, discriminate and go against the core values of the MDC."

The split ahead of polls expected to take place in July this year, is likely to give an edge to Zanu-PF, led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Chamisa is the leader of the MDC Alliance, which comprises six fringe opposition parties, among those the MDC led by Ncube and the People’s Democratic party led by Biti.

Khuphe is set to join hands with Joice Mujuru, head of the National People’s Party and also the leader of an alliance, the People’s Rainbow Coalition.

A gruelling legal battle is now expected for control of the MDC imagery and name.

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