It comes as no surprise that the Ministry of Health has barred the gathering that had been planned to elect a replacement for the late MDC founding president, Dr Richard Tsvangirai. I have been all along been advising Dr Khupe led faction that they should plan to hold the elections in a manner that complies with the prevailing Coronavirus situation to no avail. The Supreme Court Judgement was passed during the lockdown, with all indications that the virus was to be with us for a while. I advised about the voting being decentralised, advice which got to the planners but was ignored.
Most importantly, I also advised the Khupe faction that they were not planning the event in accordance to the MDC Constitution, because the National Council of the 2014 MDC-T structures had not met to discuss and communicate the Extra Ordinary Congress as required by Section 6.2.6 of the Constitution which stipulates that “a notice convening an Extra-Ordinary Congress shall be sent to all members entitled to attend and to each branch by the National Council at least one month before the date of the meeting”. This advice was ignored, even after the majority members of the MDC-T 2014 structures met and made a formal request to have their contribution included in the discussion to plan for the Extra-Ordinary Congress.
Amid all this, there seemed to be attempted by the rival groups within the faction to outfox each other to land the Presidency instead of addressing issues that ensured that the Extra-Ordinary Congress met the requirements of the Supreme Court ruling and the MDC Constitution. Media reports quoted Senator Mwonzora backers saying “(Dr. Thokozani) Khupe had attempted to breach the Supreme Court ruling” by pushing back the Extra-Ordinary Congress, while Senator Mwonzora is quoted to have warned the MDC-T Khupe faction Standing Committee that failure to hold the Extra-Ordinary Congress within the stipulated period would “expose the party to lawsuits which could be disastrous”, and the position remains pretty much the same.
But I had warned the Khupe faction that they were spending precious time doing things that were outside the Party Constitution, and outside the Supreme Court ruling instead of following the constitution, even suggesting that they could involve the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions which gave birth to the MDC to mediate in the MDC disputes, and all advice fell on deaf ears.
As I advised, the election of a replacement for Dr Tsvangirai had to be done under the prevailing conditions. The media says 4500 delegates had been expected to vote for the President, and apart from those based in South Africa, The United Kingdom and the United States, these 4500 delegates would have been coming from 210 Constituencies across the country, making the average delegates per constituency 38 people. Voting could have taken place at the constituency level, and results communicated to those gathered at the Congress centre, mainly the candidates and their managers. In this age of Information and Communication Technology, speeches would have been delivered electronically as is common practice these days.
Instead of proper planning, the Khupe faction was obsessed with firing members and recalling legislators to create space for Dr Khupe to become the leader of the House in Parliament, and to distribute positions in the legislature to other trusted colleagues. It would appear reason only prevailed less than a month before the deadline by which the Extra-Ordinary Congress would have been held, when despite an earlier snub, a decision was reached to finally meet with the appropriate MDC-T on Wednesday 8 July 2020, 23 days before the deadline to hold the Extra-Ordinary Congress. That would not have given adequate time to call for an Extra-Ordinary Congress as required by the MDC Constitution.
My many warnings to the MDC T Khupe faction were not carried privately but were addressed to the relevant players and copied to various local and international organisations, including the United Nations agencies, the International Parliamentarians Union, SADC, Parliament of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean Senate President, and to the Minister of Justice among others. As far as facts are concerned, the Extra-Ordinary Congress suggested by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has failed, and as a member of the MDC-T as at 2014, I will appeal to the Courts of law if anyone tries to hold an Extra-Ordinary Congress of the MDC-T.
The MDC-T led by Dr Khupe which held its Congress in Bulawayo in 2018 is now free to continue with life as at 30 March 2020 before the Supreme Court Judgement was announced, and likewise, the MDC Alliance can now revert to its 30 March 2020 position. Of cause, there have been changes in the Harvest House occupancy, but those are things that the relevant parties can always talk about. Senator Morgan Komichi, Senator Douglas Mwonzora, and Senator Elias Mudzuri are free to join MDC-T which held its Congress in Bulawayo in 2018 if they wish, or make peace with their MDC Alliance colleagues.
The Supreme Court has indeed been a test of intelligence of some of the potential leaders of Zimbabwe, and the result is all out there for the public to judge. I hope there have been some important lessons learnt, and those in the MDC T Khupe faction who still aspire for leadership roles to pull the country out of the mess it was dumped into by Zanu PF can reflect and take corrective measures to improve their credibility in the eyes of the electorate.
Advice ignored is trouble invited.