MDC-T Bulawayo members have launched a scathing attack on party deppresident Thokozani Khupe for “fleeing” the Makokoba constituency, saying she is leaving the area in “flames”.
Khupe has been the Makokoba MP since 2000 but the party has resolved that as a “national leader” she should help the party campaign nationally and not confine herself to a single constituency.
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson Gorden Moyo will contest in Khupe’s stead.
Makokoba has been enmeshed in factional clashes in the past two years resulting in defections amid mounting complaints over Khupe’s leadership style.
Her popularity in party structures in the constituency has been waning over the years with members accusing her of dictatorship and neglecting the electorate. More than 300 MDC-T members in Makokoba, including senior officials, were said to have defected to the rival MDC last year.
MDC-T sources said Khupe’s decision to leave Makokoba was a clear sign that “the burden of representing Makokoba was overwhelming her”.
“By not seeking re-election, Khupe has revealed that Makokoba had been a burden to her and was harming her credibility as a national leader,” said a source.
“She might be gone but the constituency is in flames and we risk losing it to rivals.”
Khupe initially sought to contest the rural Nkayi seat, but was warned she risked losing relevance and her post as party deputy president by moving away from an urban constituency.
Sources said failure to act against Khupe by MDC-T leaders after she was fingered in violence reports contributed to her loss of respect and support among members.
MDC-T Bulawayo structures are riddled with intense factional battles between a Khupe-backed group led by Moyo and the other led by Mzilikazi senator Matson Hlalo.
Observers view Khupe’s decision to move away from Makokoba as a victory for Hlalo’s faction.