HARARE – Little-known Zimbabwe First (ZimFirst) party leader Maxwell Zeb Shumba has threatened to take legal action against Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo accusing them of “stealing” his party’s name.
Mutasa and Gumbo’s opposition party — formed in 2016, way after Shumba’s — is named Zimbabwe People First (ZPF).
In a March 9 letter, Shumba — through his lawyers, Tsara and Associates — gave the duo a 14-day ultimatum to make a written undertaking to stop using the ZPF name, failure of which he would drag them to court.
Shumba, a former adviser to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, claims Mutasa has been ignoring his calls to resolve the issue amicably, leaving him with no option, but to take the legal route.
The United States-based politician also claimed that he had advised Mutasa that he registered his party with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) in May 2015 under the names Zimbabwe First, People First and Country First.
“Your actions have severely inconvenienced our clients and is prejudicial to their business as a party and it is not in dispute that the electorate and the public in general are confused as to whether there are two parties with the same name or whether one party is a faction of the other ,” Shumba’s attorneys wrote.
“For the avoidance of doubt…Shumba has been communicating with you since March 2015 pertaining to that name and all documentation in the registrar’s office confirms his assertion that the name belongs to his party,” they said.
“By this letter, we kindly request your written undertaking to stop using the names Zimbabwe People First or People First . . . failing which we shall be left with no other option but to approach the High Court for an interdict against your party and yourself,” the lawyers wrote further.
Contacted for comment Zec chairperson Rita Makarau said she would check with the electoral body’s chief executive, Constance Chigwamba.
“She is not around at the moment but as soon as she comes back I will check with her to see if she has received anything form Shumba regarding the name Zimbabwe People First,” Makarau said.
However, Mutasa confirmed receipt of Shumba’s letter although he neither denied nor confirmed that the name does not belong to him and Gumbo — the founders of ZPF.
Instead, he argued “nobody owns names on earth” and using ZPF would not in any way inconvenience Shumba and his party.
“Is there anybody who owns any name on mother earth? How many parties use the name MDC, for example? We are not moved at all because we have not stopped him from campaigning. He should not hide behind a finger when the reality is that he has failed to organise his party to attract people,” Mutasa said.