MDC-T insiders said Tsvangirai confronted Khupe at the party’s national executive meeting last week on the poor attendance after she had earlier assured the premier that the prayer day would attract a full stadium.
Organisers of the event had initially wanted to use the 8 000-seater White City Stadium, but Khupe objected saying it was too small as a huge crowd would be mobilised, hence the booking of the 30 000-seater Barbourfields Stadium. However, only the VIP enclosure was packed with less than 5 000 people attending the event.
“Tsvangirai was not happy about the poor attendance and asked for an explanation from Khupe, who was tongue-tied as her assurance had flopped,” said the MDC-T official.
Even the presence of renowned South African gospel music guru Sipho Makhabane, the local duo of Charles and Olivia Charamba, and Mkhululi Bhebhe from the famous Joyous Celebration could not bring in the crowds.
The poor attendance mirrored the intense factional battles in Bulawayo between the group led by provincial chairman and State Enterprises and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo and the other led by Mzilikazi senator Matson Hlalo.
Khupe backs Moyo but Hlalo’s camp has strategically mobilised to the extent of threatening the deputy premier’s Makokoba parliamentary seat when the party’s nomination process opens.
As a result, the MDC-T has proposed a system similar to Zanu PF whereby members of the party’s presidium may choose between contesting elections or opt for appointment on the pretext that they are national leaders.
The MDC-T is probably discussing this proposal on the assumption that it would win the parliamentary and presidential elections.