The Movement for Democratic Change has formally split into two with vice-president Thokozani Khupe saying she is going her own way but will retain the name MDC-T.
Khupe, who insists she is the acting leader of the party until a new leader is elected by congress, was expected to expel new party leader Nelson Chamisa but instead just distanced herself from Chamisa saying they were now following a different path.
“We have come a long way with our colleagues,” she was quoted by The Herald as saying. “However, they seem to have taken a different path. A path which is against and does not respect the constitution. A path which does not respect democracy, a path which is violent, a path which discriminates on the basis of ethnicity and a path which discriminates against women, who by the way are a majority, 52 percent of the voting population.”
According to Newsday, Khupe’s decision to go it alone has paved the way for the national council under Chamisa to expel her from the party and this will be done this week.
Both factions, however, want to retain the name MDC-T which means that they might have to go to court to resolve the issue.
At stake is the $1.8 million that the party should get under the Political Parties Finance Act to fund the coming election campaign.
The faction that gets to retain the name will be entitled to the money.
The split is reminiscent of that of 2005 which ultimately led to then secretary-general Welshman Ncube winning the battle to use the name MDC, forcing Tsvangirai to add his name at the end.
Khupe and her supporters, who include former national spokesman Obert Gutu, insist that the party constitution does not allow the national council to appoint or elect a leader or to suspend a member of the standing committee.
They also insist that Khupe was the constitutional acting president of the party because she was the one elected at the party’s last congress.
Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri were appointed by Tsvangirai.
Supporters of Khupe even posted a video in which Tsvangirai clearly states that Khupe should be the acting leader in his absence.
Party presidential spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka, who is now behind Chamisa, has promised to release a video in which Tsvangirai sets the record straight.
But critics argue that it does not really matter what Tsvangirai says or preferred, the party should be guided by the constitution.
The squabble between the two factions is likely to cause confusion among the party supporters and might divide them along ethnic lines as this seems to be the line Khupe is trying to push through- that she is being sidelined because she is Ndebele and she is a woman.