Opposition leader Thokozani Khupe (file photo).
Embattled MDC-T Vice President Thokozani Khuphe insists she is the legitimate acting president following the death of founding president Morgan Tsvangirai.
Khupe was elected Tsvangirai’s deputy at the party’s 2014 congress which put her in a good stead to take over from the late former prime minister.
However, the appointment of Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri created fissures in the presidium which escalated as Tsvangirai battled colon cancer at a South African hospital.
The MDC-T leader lost his cancer battle on February 14 and was buried at his rural home, Buhera, this past Tuesday.
A faction of the party which is against Khuphe’s ascendancy to the presidency almost assaulted her when she arrived at Tsvangirai’s homestead to attend her mentor’s burial.
However, in a statement Thursday, Khuphe said the party’s constitution allows her to take over the presidency.
She explained; “As we begin this journey, I wish to draw the attention of MDC-T members and all other interested stakeholders to the provisions of Article 9.20.1 of the MDC constitution which states that in the event of the incapacitation or death of the president, the deputy president automatically assumes the role of president before calling for an extra-ordinary congress within a period not exceeding twelve months.”
However, barely a day after Tsvangirai’s death, Chamisa was appointed the party’s acting president by the National Council, giving him the mandate to preside over the opposition party’s affairs for one year.
On the other hand, co-vice president Mudzuri also claimed he was taking over after Tsvangirai.
Khuphe meanwhile, dismissed Chamisa’s appointment as a “non-event”, saying it sought “to make a mockery of the long established constitutional democratic values and ethos that govern our party”.
The former deputy prime minister said she is consulting party members on the way forward.
“This way forward will ordinarily include a roadmap to an extra ordinary congress as it is the only organ that can chose a substantive president for our party, and is the only route that will give an unadulterated mandate to that substantive leader given the background of constitutional violations which placed numerous co-pilots into the cockpit of a jet that had taken off at the 2014 congress,” she said.
Khuphe also vowed to deal with the intra-party violence that played out at Tsvangirai’s burial.
“Incidents of violence and general unbecoming and uncouth behaviour that played itself out during the funeral wake and burial of our fallen comrade president stand condemned, least because yours truly was also a victim, but more so because they have no place in our party,” she said.