MDC-TEAM interim chairperson Samuel Sipepa Nkomo has revealed the reason for the Botswana trip that resulted in the expulsion of current MDC-T deputy organising secretary Abedinico Bhebhe and his colleagues from the smaller MDC formation on accusations of selling out.
Sipepa Nkomo made the revelations at a public meeting on the state of opposition politics in Zimbabwe held at the Bulawayo Club and organised by the Habakkuk Trust on Thursday, as the fight within opposition forces escalates.
Sipepa Nkomo told the meeting that Bhebhe and two other former MDC MPs were given money by the MDC-T in Botswana to vote for Lovemore Moyo as the Speaker of the National Assembly in 2009.
The matter arose when Bhebhe was asked to clarify his defection from the main MDC in 2005 at the split and his return to the party four years later.
Bhebhe said he had clashed with MDC leader Welshman Ncube at the party’s 2007 conference after he said people had told him that they should unite.
He said Ncube labelled him a sellout.
“If propaganda is repeated, it ends up being believed. It was concocted by someone,” Bhebhe said.
He said their intention was to go to South Africa via Botswana to assess xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the neighbouring country, but were blocked by Ncube.
He said if the objective was to vote for Moyo, it was not necessary to travel all the way to Botswana to confirm that.
However, Nkomo said the Botswana trip was meant to convince Bhebhe and his colleagues to vote for Moyo.
“The MPs were persuaded to vote for our candidate for the Speaker of Parliament.
“We were told they voted with us. Whether they were paid or not, I do not know. It had nothing to do with xenophobia,” Sipepa Nkomo said.
Bhebhe lost the Nkayi South parliamentary seat alongside Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East) and Norman Mpofu (Bulilima-Mangwe) over the Moyo fiasco.
The three formally crossed the floor to join MDC-T ahead of last year’s elections but only Bhebhe was voted back into Parliament.
Mpofu and Mguni lost to Zanu PF candidates in the July 31 polls after an outcry that they were imposed on their constituencies.