Khupe looks beyond the Horizon

AS the mainstream MDC T parties ways with Dr Thokozani Khupe, many, including the party’s friends and foes, have wondered why she has chosen this path.

In Zimbabwe political circles, pundits say it is cold outside the main two parties, in Zanu PF and the MDC T.

So, Dr Khupe’s friends and foes alike are scratching their heads, wondering over what shall become of her future in politics.

People are asking:

What is the endgame for Khupe?

What is she planning?

What does she hope to achieve?

Is she a rebel without a cause?

Thokozani Khupe

Dr Khupe was born on 18 November 1963 and is about 54 years old. She was the Vice President of the MDC T until her expulsion on 23 March 2018.  Dr Khupe now leads a splinter group of the MDC.

During the period of the Government for National Unity (GNU) – from February 2009 to August 2013 – Dr Khupe represented the MDC T as Deputy Prime Minister in the Government of Zimbabwe.

But now in addition to her suspension from the MDC T party, Dr Khupe has suffered another setback, as she has also been recalled as Member of Parliament for Makokoba constituency won under an MDC T ticket, a party which she ironically claims to be its authentic representative.

During her meteoritic rise, in 2005 Dr Khupe was elected Vice President of the MDC T, taking over from veteran trade unionist Gibson Sibanda. She was a third term Member of Parliament for the Makokoba constituency.

Before, Dr Khupe had served in the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway Union (ZARU) in 1987. In 1991 she was elected Secretary of the ZCTU Women’s Advisory Council and also a General Council member of the ZCTU. In 1999 she participated in the formation of the MDC party, in which she was elected as a National Executive member responsible for Transport, Logistics and Welfare. In June 2000 she was elected Member of Parliament for the Makokoba Constituency in Bulawayo.

Welshman Ncube Factor

Dr Khupe and Professor Welshman Ncube have a long history as rivals in the politics of Matabeleland. The two senior politicians are sworn rivals and are rumoured to have pledged never to work together.

In fact, in the March 2008 parliamentary election, Dr Khupe ran for re-election in Makokoba Constituency as candidate of the main MDC led by the now late Morgan Tsvangirai, defeating Welshman Ncube, then Secretary General of the Mutambara MDC splinter group.

Dr Khupe garnered 4,123 votes against Ncube’s 2,475.

In the present standoff with others within the MDC T party – and despite Dr Khupe hiding behind the excuse of seat allocations – it is alleged that her main reason for not accepting the MDC Alliance is mainly to do with her rivalry with Ncube, whom she apparently finds hard to tolerate.

Historical Perspective

When Professor Ncube left the main stream MDC T, he struggled to make an impact during elections, although he had structures throughout the country. Tendai Biti also found the going tough with his faction when he refused to participate in by elections upon realising his faction would be humiliated without the support of the mainstream MDC T. The historical perspective is that whoever controls Harvest House, will have the support of both the MDCT structures and public.

As proven by Professor Ncube and Biti in their political demise following their self-inflicted severance from the MDC T, Dr Khupe is soon likely to struggle making an impact in this year’s elections.

Trump Card

As seen by Dr Khupe’s recent political rhetoric and allegations that she was called a “dissident” while attending Tsvangirai’s burial, and the narrative that she was not chosen to be the substantive MDC T president due to her being a woman, including the fact that she hails from a minority tribe, is going to be her trump card during this year’s election campaign.

This tactic is likely to resonate well with women and conservative voters in Matabeleland, who could both be turned into loathing the MDC Alliance, including its electoral prospects in that region.

Queen Maker

People are asking if Khupe is likely  to only get minority votes in Matabeleland, then why did she choose to get expelled from her position as National Vice President of the biggest opposition party in the country.

The answer is simple; Dr Khupe is thinking long-term. She is going to leverage on this year’s election to “squeeze out” as much votes from the MDC Alliance as possible. Dr Khupe intends here to replicate Professor Ncube’s strategy of 2013 in which the MDC T lost nearly 10 seats in Matabeleland to Zanu PF because of the deep divisions within Opposition ranks.

Dr Khupe is aware that if she can cause chaos and win just a few seats in Matabeleland, then she will be a Queenmaker and the MDC Alliance will need her in the long term.

But compared to Professor Ncube and Biti, her faction is much weaker because she does not have provincial structures supporting her and does not have the support from MDC Members of Parliament, so it will be a herculean task for her to accomplish her mission of damaging the MDC Alliance electoral prospects in Matabeleland.

In fact, Dr Khupe and her splinter group will be very lucky if they can muster to win at least 2 seats in this year’s parliamentary elections.


In as much as Dr Khupe’s mission looks like mission impossible, her plans are long-term. The main reason for her political move revolves around her loss of the MDC T presidency to Nelson Chamisa.

In a typical win-lose kind of scenario, accepting Chamisa’s leadership was going to imply also that she plays second fiddle to her arch rival, Professor Ncube, who is now an MDC Alliance principal.

So, Dr Khupe has gambled with her political future in the hope that she could inevitably become a queen-maker in the long-term.

And the hope is that she will come back as a senior leader and at par or better than what currently Professor Ncube is in the MDC Alliance.

And in her world, it is rumoured that it will be more satisfying if she can outmanoeuvre the MDC Alliance with other political players and come out tops.

In her Machiavelli political strategy, Dr Khupe is looking beyond the horizon.

The Writer: Darlington Nyambiya is the President of the Local Solutions Council (LSC) , a leading Zimbabwe Think Tank. The LSC is a Think Tank with members from diverse Zimbabwean communities in politics, business, religion and sports. He is also a Pro-Democracy Activist, Political Strategist, Human Rights Defender, Social Media Commentator, Writer and a Business Executive. Contact Details ; Cellnumber: +44 74 823 56315  , Twitter handle: D_Nyambiya Email: , Corporate Twitter Handle : lsc_thinktank  For more information on  Strategic Views on Zimbabwe log onto our website on :Website Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved. The Article may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission.

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