Bruising fights ahead of MDC-T primary polls

Brian Chitemba

MDC-T Bulawayo senior officials are jostling for parliamentary constituencies ahead of the next national elections with provincial chairman and non-constituency MP, Gorden Moyo, eyeing the Bulawayo East seat held by former party deputy national spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo.
But Khumalo has vowed to fight fiercely to keep her seat.

 
According to party insiders Khumalo, who is under fire and was recently axed as deputy party spokesperson, would be ousted from her seat as part of a wider fight between her and Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe.

 
Khupe, who enjoys close ties with Moyo, is reportedly orchestrating the plot to remove Khumalo, who challenged her for the party’s vice-presidency at last year’s congress.
Moyo, also State Enterprises minister, is seeking a parliamentary seat to secure his political career since he was handpicked by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai from civil society where he headed Bulawayo Agenda. He initially worked in Tsvangirai’s office.

 
Moyo needs a seat to be appointed to cabinet after the coalition arrangement, should the latest draft finally be adopted into the country’s new constitution.
Apart from Khumalo, insiders said Pelandaba MP Samuel Sandla Khumalo is also likely to be removed to make way for close Khupe ally and current Bulawayo Central MP, Dorcas Sibanda. Khupe is seeking a “safe” seat after a spate of defections by party officials in her Makokoba constituency.

 
About 200 MDC-T officials reportedly crossed the floor to join the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, accusing Khupe of dictatorship, but Khupe dismissed the defections as propaganda by Ncube and Zanu PF to discredit her ahead of elections.

 
Contacted for comment, Khumalo said she was not aware of any plot to remove her from the Bulawayo East seat, but warned conspirators that: “I am ready to die for my seat.”
The MDC-T is set to announce a raft of primary election guidelines, some of which are seen by juniors as a plot to ring-fence top officials in danger of losing primary polls.