MDC-T vice-presidents Thokozani Khupe and Nelson Chamisa reportedly fought over their sitting arrangement in Parliament on Tuesday, as the factional squabbles in the opposition party took a comical and farcical turn.
On Tuesday, the two reportedly had an ugly spat in Parliament, as they fought over a seat, before the party’s third vice-president, Elias Mudzuri, intervened and cooled down the tempers.
“Khupe, as leader of opposition in Parliament, arrived a bit late and found Chamisa sitting in her ‘place’,” a source revealed.
“The normal procedure is all MPs are supposed to give Khupe the space she needs so she can sit in her usual position, but on Tuesday, Chamisa flatly refused to move.
“There was a harsh exchange of words and Chamisa was heard saying ‘I will not be forced to respect anyone. I am not moving’.
“A sulking and visibly-angry Khupe then retreated to chairs normally reserved for chief whips.”
Another source, who witnessed the drama, said: “Mudzuri later pleaded with Khupe to take her rightful position after Chamisa had briefly walked out of the House.”
Chamisa professed ignorance of the incident, but was quick to point out that Khupe did not have a seat reserved specifically for her.
“I am not aware of that. That is petty and it is being driven by people, who want to major in minors,” he said.
“If anything, the front benches are reserved for opposition leaders, not the leader of the opposition in Parliament.”
Khupe was not available for comment yesterday.
Mudzuri confirmed the incident.
“I got there when it had already happened,” he narrated. “I felt that people can have differences, but need to respect parliamentary decorum.
“I just asked her (Khupe) to take her rightful position.
“Some of us are not worried about where we sit really.”
Khupe has served as MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai’s deputy for more than 11 years and was re-elected to the position at the 2014 MDC-T congress, while Chamisa and Mudzuri were later appointed as deputies by Tsvangirai after he disclosed he was battling with cancer of the colon.
Tsvangirai’s health took a nosedive early this month during a meeting of principals of the opposition coalition, MDC Alliance, in Kadoma and was airlifted to South Africa for medical attention.
Khupe, who of late has been at loggerheads with Tsvangirai over the party’s involvement in the MDC Alliance, immediately took over as “acting president”, amid reports that Chamisa had positioned himself to succeed the former Prime Minister in the event that he gets indisposed due to ill health.
“She actually spoke to Tsvangirai this week,” another source said.
Khupe had not spoken to Tsvangirai since she was harassed by rogue party youth last month.
Chamisa is now accused of trying to unseat Tsvangirai by whipping up public sentiment over his health.
Impeccable sources within the MDC-T told NewsDay there was an elaborate plan by top officials in the party opposed to Chamisa, to drive a wedge between Tsvangirai and his youthful deputy.
“Tsvangirai is being briefed daily by top officials, who are advising him to clip Chamisa’s wings upon his return. Some have even suggested that he be dumped from the post,” the source said.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu, however, denied reports that the party’s top leadership was fighting over Tsvangirai’s post.
“Our leader is Morgan Tsvangirai and he is in fact the MDC Alliance presidential candidate for 2018. Tsvangirai is our best foot forward, he is charismatic and he carries with him massive and breathtaking popular appeal. No other politician in Zimbabwe can match Tsvangirai’s stature.
“We have got three vice-presidents and only one president. There’s absolutely no turbulence in the cockpit. If anything, our party is on a roll,” Gutu said.