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Khupe congress blocked

UNCERTAINTY looms over the MDC-T extraordinary congress which had been pencilled for July 31, amid reports that the police have refused to clear the event citing COVID-19 regulations which restrict gatherings to only 50 people.

MDC-T insiders told NewsDay that they had received communication that the congress, to be held according to a supreme Court ruling to elect the replacement of the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, had been blocked by the police.

"Police have refused to clear the congress and it is now in doubt that it will be held on July 31 because of CoViD-19 restrictions, i have just seen the letter which is now at our offices," a source said.

Party spokesperson Khalipani Phugeni said, while he was yet to see the letter, he was aware that the MDC-T had written to the police seeking clearance for the event to take place just after schools open on July 28.

"The standing committee has not yet sat, so i don't have that briefing yet," Pungeni said.

"What i can tell you is that we wrote to the police over the extraordinary congress through the party chairman [Morgen Komichi] and he is the one who has been tasked by the party to deal with that matter. once the response is tabled to the standing committee, i will be able to address you on it," he said.

Acting MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe had to cancel the Tuesday standing committee and the national council meeting which had been pencilled for today, as party leaders crisscross the country mobilising structures ahead of congress.

"We can't have standing committee this week because our leaders are busy consulting delegates; about three of our senior leaders are out of town as we speak. i can also tell you that the secretary-general [Douglas Mwonzora] is right now delivering a letter to national council members to cancel that meeting to a further date in the immediate future," Phugeni said.

National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi, however, said he was not aware of the response from the police to the MDCT.

"I am not aware that the police have barred the MDC-T congress," he said.

The supreme Court in March instructed Khupe to hold the congress within three months, failure, for whatever reason, Komichi would be given four months to do the same, putting Khupe in a dilemma over congress delegates.

Even before the police disallowed the congress, there had been concerns from some party members on how to proceed with the indaba where a staggering 4 500 delegates must attend during CoViD-19 restrictions.

"some members have been suggesting that it be held online, but with the numbers involved and also considering that some delegates are based from rural areas where connectivity is bad, the option to hold the congress online is almost impossible. The issue is yet to be discussed fully for a way forward to be put in place," a party insider said.

Another source indicated that the extraordinary congress, whose venue is yet to be announced, was likely to be held at the Harare City sports Centre and the party leadership would plead with the courts to allow it to happen with big numbers involved.

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