Apparently caught in sixes–and-sevens following the surprise victory of ‘unwanted’ MDC-T organising secretary Abednigo Bhebhe in nominations for the presidency held in Bulawayo ahead of the impending extraordinary congress to choose the substantive replacement of the late founding MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai, acting party leader Thokozani Khupe has suspended the holding of nominations in Matabeleland North and Midlands South provinces, it has emerged.
In her justification for the suspension of the pre-Congress nominations, Khupe is, in turn, reportedly citing the coronavirus crisis and a police interdiction to the nominations as reasons, Busstop TV said in a report.
According to the publication, although efforts to get a comment from MDC-T and Khupe’s spokesperson Khalipani Phugeni were not successful, unnamed party insiders said the trio of Khupe, reinstated secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and national chairman Morgen Komichi were shocked by Bhebhe’s unexpected victory in Bulawayo and this has forced the party to suspend the nominations.
It is also reported that Bhebhe has solid support within the MDC-T structures as he is understood to be untainted with accusations of working in cahoots with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF to derail Khupe’s arch-nemesis Nelson Chamisa of the rival MDC Alliance.
According to Malcolm Ziki, a political analyst quoted by the paper, Bhebhe is one of the MDC-T members who has remained true to the founding values of the original MDC founded by the late Tsvangirai.
“There is no doubt that Bhebhe might surprise many in this race. From his fights with his fellow leaders, he sounded very true to the MDC founding values. He sounds a unifier. From the leaders who are garnering for the top post, most of them are tainted and are considered ZANU PF proteges,” said Ziki.
In March, the Supreme Court made a shock ruling which declared that Khupe was the legitimate acting president of the main opposition, pending an extraordinary congress to elect Tsvangirai’s successor. Chamisa’s presidency was nullified and the High Court later ruled that the MDC Alliance was not a properly constituted political party.