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Tsvangirai, Khupe rift widens, Tsvangirai address almost empty stadium

THE rift between MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, over their party's involvement in the MDC Alliance has reportedly widened, with the latter demanding that they meet at a neutral venue outside Harare to resolve their differences to avoid another split.

Top MDC-T sources said Khupe rebuffed "lukewarm efforts" persuading her to attend Saturday's MDC Alliance launch rally in Bulawayo, where Tsvangirai, in a thinly veiled attack, accused her of plotting to divide the country along tribal lines.

"She (Khupe) is not backing down and has been buoyed by the depleted numbers that attended Saturday's rally.

"She refused to meet him (Tsvangirai) on Saturday. There were efforts to try and persuade her to attend the rally, but these were rather lukewarm," a top party insider said.

"Khupe wants to talk to Tsvangirai, but has refused to come to Harare.

"She has genuine fear that party thugs aligned to Tsvangirai will attack her and her colleagues.

"Tsvangirai will have to find a way to accommodate Khupe and her colleagues. These are not politicians you can just wish away."

Khupe, sources said, has proposed to meet Tsvangirai "anywhere, but Harare".

"She wants to meet in Kadoma or Nyanga, but definitely not Harare. She will be attacked," NewsDay heard.

Khupe, along with MDC-T national chairman, Lovemore Moyo and party organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, are against Tsvangirai's move to forge an alliance with other opposition forces, particularly Welshman Ncube's MDC and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) led by Tendai Biti.

Both Khupe and Moyo were unreachable for comment yesterday, but Bhebhe said: "I am attending to my studies and was not at yesterday's (Saturday's) rally.

"There have always been efforts to resolve the impasse, but I am not sure of any yesterday. I cannot speak on behalf of others, but we are willing to talk."

Tsvangirai's spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka was not available for comment yesterday and party spokesperson, Obert Gutu was not forthcoming on the issue.

"These are issues being dealt with by the president and he has a spokesperson. It would be improper for me to comment," Gutu said.

Tsvangirai, in his address to supporters in Bulawayo, warned against ethnic politicking.

The MDC-T leader accused President Robert Mugabe, who is accused of orchestrating the Gukurahundi atrocities that left more than 20 000 civilians dead, of failing to build "an inclusive country".

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