November 18, 1963
|Education||Zimbabwe Open University, NUST|
|Years active||1978 to present|
|Employer||Movement for Democratic Change|
|Known for||Being Deputy Prime Minister during the Government of National Unity, Vice President of the MDC-T Party|
|Political party||Movement for Democratic Change|
|Opponent(s)||Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front|
|Parent(s)||Fanelo (Father) and Catherine (Mother)|
Thokozani Khupe is a Zimbabwean politician, cancer activist and acting President of the Movement for Democratic Change- Tsvangirai. She challenged MDC Alliance President Nelson Chamisa for the bid to succeed the late MDC-T founder Morgan Tsvangirai. Khupe contested for Presidency in the 2018 national elections representing MDC-T despite reports that she had been dismissed from the party.
Khupe was expelled from Parliament in April 2018 after the Chamisa led MDC-T wrote a letter to the speaker of parliament informing him that Khupe had been expelled from the party and hence did not represent it and its interests.
On 21 April 2018 Khupe held an extraordinary congress in Bulawayo where she was elected as the president of the party unopposed after Chamisa had formed MDC Alliance with the likes of Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube. This position has since changed after the Supreme Court ruled on 31 March 2020 that the 2014 MDC-T leadership be reinstated and she found herself being the Acting President of the party that elected her to be the president.
She holds the following degrees:
- Diploma in Information Technology from the University of Turin, Italy(1999)
- Bachelor of Arts degree in Media studies from the Zimbabwe Open University(2004)
- Masters in Business Administration with the National University of Science and Technology (2009).
- Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Khupe started her activism in the 1980s when she was part of a strong trade union movement agitating for better working conditions. Her post as Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway Union secretary in 1978-1999 brought her closer to Morgan Tsvangirai who was at the helm of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) at that time. It is therefore not surprising that she was one of the founding members of MDC who became a National Executive member in 1999 when the party was formed. Having been secretary for Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Women’s Advisory Council in 1991 was an added advantage to be considered as MDC executive member.
She was elected Member of Parliament for Makokoba in the 2000 elections. She was rewarded in 2006 when she was voted MDC Vice-President, a position which she held until the death of the founding President Morgan Tsvangirai and later expelled from the party but in March 2020 she was reinstated as the Acting President of MDC-T after the Supreme Court ruled that the party revert to the 2014 structures. She also represented her party in government in 2009 when she became the first-ever Deputy Prime Minister in the history of Zimbabwe.
In October 2012, she opened the Thokozani Khupe Cancer Foundation to help cancer patients access affordable treatment. Khupe, who is herself a cancer survivor saw the need to reduce the number of cancer deaths due to the few hospitals that offer cancer treatment and the high cost that these hospitals charge.
Khupe as the leader of the opposition in the House of Assembly in 2012, was active by introducing motions for the cause of cancer patients. She once clamoured for government to introduce a mandatory cancer levy and the establishment of cancer centers across all provinces. Only Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and Mpilo Central Hospital in Harare and Bulawayo respectively offer cancer treatment.
She was the President of the Global POWER Women Network Africa which promotes gender equality and women empowerment in the area of HIV and Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights in Africa.
Factionalism after the death of Morgan Tsvangirai
- Chamisa was appointed acting president as Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe were in South Africa where they were engaged in coalition talks with other opposition parties.
- MDC-T vice president Thokozani Khupe contested Morgan Tsvangirai’s appointment of Nelson Chamisa as the party’s acting president saying that it is unconstitutional
- Obert Gutu dismissed Nelson Chamisa’s appointment as the party’s acting president taking over from Elias Mudzuri.
- Thokozani Khupe, Elias Mudzuri and Nelson Chamisa all claimed to be the rightful acting president in the absence of veteran party leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was undergoing treatment in South Africa.
- Morgan Tsvangirai’s family broke its silence over the succession race in the MDC-T. They dismissed Luke Tamborinyoka’s statement appointing Nelson Chamisa as MDC-T acting president until their father’s return from South Africa where he was receiving treatment for colon cancer.
- MDC-T deputy president Elias Mudzuri (EM) said his colleague Nelson Chamisa lied that he spoke to ailing leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was in South Africa receiving treatment.
- MDC-T Deputy Nelson Chamisa insisted that he was appointed the party’s acting president by ailing leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was in South Africa where he was receiving treatment.
- Chamisa said that while he respected the Tsvangirais, the family was not the party and was not privy to internal party communication.
- MDC-T youth Chairperson Happymore Chidziva gave the opposition party’s two Vice Presidents Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri 48 hours to deal with the factional fights that threatened to derail the party’s election campaign.
- The party’s co-vice presidents Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe boycotted a standing committee meeting convened by Nelson Chamisa. The party’s national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo also boycotted the meeting.
- Elias Mudzuri and Nelson Chamisa called for separate meetings at two different locations. At a time when it was expected that the two would be united as they mourned their former principal, Morgan Tsvangirai.
- Chamisa was appointed as the Acting President by the party’s national council although the two other vice presidents did not attend the meeting. Chamisa claimed that Mudzuri did not attend the meeting despite being notified while Khupe was still on her way to Harare.
- MDC-T Vice President Thokozani Khupe accused her counterpart Nelson Chamisa of being power hungry and staging a coup.
- Lydia Tsvangirai, the mother of the late former Prime Minister and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai declared that she did not want to see her son’s widow Elizabeth Macheka and MDC-T Acting President Nelson Chamisa at her son’s burial.
- MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said that his party violated its own constitution by electing Nelson Chamisa as the acting president of the party, a day after the death of Morgan Tsvangirai.
- According to Welshman Ncube, Tsvangirai chose Chamisa to take over from him after his eventual death.
- The late Morgan Tsvangirai’s youngest son Richard endorsed MDC-T acting president Nelson Chamisa as the successor to his father.
- Khupe was chased away from Tsvangirai's burial in Buhera District and had to leave under police escort
- MDC youths threatened to burn down a hut she had sought refuge in.
- Khupe was dismissed from the party but she still maintained that she was the 2018 presidential candidate for MDC-T political party.
Attacked at Morgan Tsvangirai's funeral
Expulsion from Parliament
Response to expulsion
Thokozani Khupe responded to her recall from Parliament of Zimbabwe saying it is a malicious act of interfering in the internal affairs of the party. Speaking through her aide Witness Dube, Khupe said she had advised her lawyers to seek legal recourse on the issue. She also revealed that the MDC-T leadership crisis was before the High Court and as such, she did not deserve to be recalled from Parliament.
Launching poll manifesto
The manifesto — titled, Building an Economy to Support Economic Transformation (BEST) — was launched at the Amphitheatre in Bulawayo at an event attended by several thousands of the party’s supporters.
The manifesto had devolution of power and a pledge to fight corruption topping the list of priorities, once elected into government. MDC T B.E.S.T Manifesto
Car rally campaign
Demanding 1 million dollars from Nelson Chamisa
The MDC-T party led by Khupe said that it had no money to fund its campaign activities and demanded $1 million from the Nelson Chamisa led MDC-T party. Khupe said this was her party’s share from the money which was released to the MDC-T under the Political Parties Finance Act. In a statement Khupe said:
We have not received any money from the $1,9 million that was disbursed, not even a single cent. We wrote to the Ministry of Justice informing them of our position. We need our money for campaigning and they are mum on the issue. ….We have decided to take the legal route, we are engaging our lawyers with our VP (Obert) Gutu over the matter but the truth is we are in sixes and sevens over the issue, we are hoping that a miracle happens and we get this funding as soon as possible.
Sworn in as a Member of Parliament
The acting MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe was sworn in as a member of the National Assembly under the Proportional Representative seat on 7 October 2020. She was nominated to the post after MDC Alliance MPs were recalled by her party on controversial circumstances after the Supreme Court ruling in March 2020.
- Nyemudzai Kakore, , Herald, Published: 13 April, 2018, Accessed: 9 October, 2020
- , zwnews, Published: 31 March, 2020, Accessed: 1 April, 2020
- Marriage not for me: Khuphe, New Zimbabwe, Published: October 25, 2010, Retrieved: July 1, 2014
- Khupe, Africa Confidential, Retrieved: July 1, 2014
- Tsvangirai sworn in as Prime Minister, New Zimbabwe, Published: February 11, 2009, Retrieved: July 2014
- Khupe Cancer foundation launched, The Herald, Published: October 26, 2012, Retrieved: July 1, 2014
- Cancer video sends chills in Parliament, News Day, Published: October 17, 2013, Retrieved: July 1, 2014
- Khupe launches poll manifesto - The Standard, The Standard, published: 12 May 2018, retrieved: 24 Jul 2018
- Khupe Demands $1 From Chamisa, Says Her Party Has No Money To Fund Campaign ⋆ Pindula News, Pindula News, retrieved: 24 Jul 2018
- Herald, , Herald, Published: 7 October, 2020, Accessed: 7 October, 2020