Mr Tsvangirai yesterday said Mr Chamisa would be the party’s acting president until he returns from South Africa where he is receiving treatment.
The MDC-T has three vice presidents and these are Dr Khupe who was elected during a congress and Mr Chamisa and Engineer Elias Mudzuri who were hand-picked by Mr Tsvangirai, with internal critics saying the move was unconstitutional.
Some in the opposition party have interpreted yesterday’s move by Mr Tsvangirai as anointing of Mr Chamisa as his replacement as the party leader.
The MDC-T leader’s spokesperson Mr Luke Tamborinyoka confirmed Mr Chamisa’s appointment in a statement released yesterday afternoon.
“President Morgan Tsvangirai has with effect from today, 7 February 2018, affirmed vice president Hon. Nelson Chamisa as the acting president of the party by operation of the Constitution until the president’s return,” said Mr Tamborinyoka.
“This is in light of the president’s absence and that of the two other vice presidents who are both in South Africa. VP Chamisa also continues in his assigned duties as the acting chairperson of the MDC Alliance.”
Mr Chamisa takes over from Eng Mudzuri.
The appointment appears to have however riled Dr Khupe who yesterday declared herself the rightful successor should anything happen to Mr Tsvangirai.
Dr Khupe’s reaction has also reignited speculation around Mr Tsvangirai’s health after the MDC-T leader on Tuesday refuted reports that he was critically ill.
Posting on her Twitter account, Dr Khupe declared that the MDC-T’s constitution mandates her to lead the party in the absence of Mr Tsvangirai.
“Three consecutive MDC-T congresses have elected yours truly as Deputy President to President @mrtsvangirai & other officers primarily to avoid a leadership vacuum at such an eventuality, & to shut out any that may be artificially created by those with hidden agendas,” she tweeted.
Dr Khupe has been the party’s deputy president since 2006. In a move viewed as designed to clip her powers, in 2016 Mr Tsvangirai appointed Mr Chamisa and Eng Mudzuri as additional deputies.
The three deputies are now leading factions within the MDC-T in their battle to succeed Mr Tsvangirai.
Dr Khupe also tweeted: “I was MDC-T A/President for months in 2008 on the basis of our constitution which has remained unchanged & clear on the roles of elected officers of congress. It does not give any extensive powers to any one office bearer such that without them the party is dysfunctional.”
“Those of us sincerely concerned about the Zimbabwean voters & their MDC-T must impress upon the 2014 congressionally elected leadership at their level to take decisive corrective measures against the use of president @mrtsvangirai’s name to propagate unconstitutionalism.”
Dr Khupe has been sidelined from active politics in the past few months widening cracks within the opposition movement. – state media