HARARE – MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has appointed his deputy Thokozani Khupe acting president while he recovers from his current illness in a move widely seen as mending relations between the two heavyweights who have been at loggerheads over the party’s alliance with fringe political parties.
Tsvangirai has taken medical leave to recover from a yet-to-be disclosed illness which saw him being airlifted to South Africa recently amid claims that his health had deteriorated.
“He is suffering from cancer of the colon but it is not clear if the emergency trip to South Africa was a result of complications arising from his condition.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu confirmed Khupe’s temporary presidency.
“She’s the acting president. As you know… Khupe resides in Bulawayo but she frequently travels to and from Harare to conduct party and parliamentary business,” said Gutu.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure described the move to make Khupe the acting president as “smart”.
“It is likely to mellow in favour of the coalition because Khupe will realise that she has been recognised as the most senior of the vice presidents based on the reality that she is an elected official anyway so it makes good politics (sense) on the part of Tsvangirai,” Masunugure said.
“If you are a leader and you are given responsibilities you have to look at the trajectory the party is taking and you follow the direction of the wind.
“Khupe will realise that Tsvangirai was not up to any Machiavellian maneuvers to placate her but that he is being realistic in recognising Khupe’s position and for that, she will soften her stance to show leadership,” he added.
Tsvangirai and Khupe had been rowing ever since the dogged former labour union leader announced that he had formed an MDC Alliance that included his former two secretaries-general — Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti — as well as five other parties.
Khupe and other officials opposed to the MDC Alliance who include national chairperson Lovemore Moyo and Abednico Bhebhe boycotted the launch of the MDC Alliance both in Harare and Bulawayo, respectively.
Relations had already been soured by the violence which occurred between the Harare and Bulawayo launches which was orchestrated by suspected party yobs.
Attempts to let Khupe and Tsvangirai bury the hatchet, have so far been not successful as the former was not keen on meeting her leader in Harare for fear of a repeat of violence which left her injured during the bloody clashes at her offices in Bulawayo on August 6.-Dailynews