Fresh blow for Nelson Chamisa team
. . . as Khupe, allies notch up another victory
and Tarisai Machakaire
IT DOES not rain but pours for Nelson Chamisa’s MDC faction, with the beset group receiving another morale-sapping blow yesterday after it lost the battle for the warring party’s hugely symbolic national headquarters in Harare, the Daily News reports.
This comes after High Court judge, Justice David Mangota, dismissed petitions by Chamisa’s MDC-Alliance (MDC-A) to repossess Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, formerly Harvest House — meaning that his rival Thokozani Khupe and her allies are now officially the legitimate occupants of the iconic building.
It also comes as Khupe and Chamisa have been involved in a fierce tussle for control of the country’s main opposition party, since the death of its much-loved founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in February 2018.
Yesterday, Mangota dismissed two applications that had been filed by the MDC-A, following a June 4 incident in which the political pact had claimed that they were forcibly and unjustly removed from the building with the alleged assistance of the police and army.
In both its applications for a spoliation order, the MDC-A sought to have the current occupation of the building by the MDC declared unlawful, and for an interdict barring the latter from using the facility.
“We have succeeded and our clients remain at Harvest House. This means that unless they succeed on appeal, the MDC-T remains the legal occupants of the property,” MDC lawyer Lovemore Madhuku told the Daily News after the judgment.
In the judgment, Mangota also scathingly accused Chamisa’s camp of lying and basing its applications on assumptions.
“They corroborated the assertions of the police and the soldiers in a clear and unambiguous manner. They made sweeping statements which they did not support with any evidence.
“Their evidence was contradictory in material respects. They manipulated the system of justice delivery … their respective applications are therefore bound to fail,” the judge said.
This is not the first time that Chamisa and his allies have received a beating at the hands of Khupe’s interim leadership.
The Supreme Court’s recent judgment — which, in turn — upheld last year’s ruling by the High Court, which nullified Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the party marked a major setback for the charismatic politician.
That court ruling conferred the party’s leadership to Khupe, and also directed that the MDC reverts to its 2014 structures — in addition to holding an extraordinary congress to elect Tsvangirai’s substantive successor.
Last month, Chamisa’s faction also suffered another setback in its bid to bar Khupe from recalling party legislators from Parliament.
Then, High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled that Chamisa’s team was improperly before the courts, as the MDC Alliance was not a juristic person that was capable of suing or being sued.
That ruling paved the way for Khupe to recall nine more legislators on Tuesday this week, after she had successfully recalled four others earlier — including the MDC-Alliance’s leader in Parliament Tabitha Khumalo, national assembly and Senate chief whips Prosper Mutseyami and Lilian Timveos respectively, as well as the Alliance’s secretary general Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana East).
The nine MPs recalled this week are Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Happymore Chidziva (Highfield), proportional representatives Bacilia Majaya, Mucharairwa Mugidho, Virginia Muradzikwa, Anna Muyambo, Francesca Ncube, Nomathemba Ndlovu and Murisi Zwizwai (Harare Central).
This brought to 13 the number of legislators aligned to Chamisa who have been recalled from Parliament so far — with MDC national chairperson Morgen Komichi yesterday threatening to wield the axe again on more MPs who are refusing to be compliant.
“We appreciate that they are being managed by fear, especially given the power that a strong and dictatorial leader wields, but we also know that the MPs are not dull as to fail to decide their political future.
“They must realise that patience is elastic and there is a limit to which it can stretch. So, we will not hesitate to unleash the law on them if they do not join us soon,” Komichi said as he met some party legislators on Wednesday.
In his equally scathing judgment, Chitapi said that while a political party did not need a constitution to exist, there was need for it to prove that it was a legal persona capable of enjoying rights separate from its members.
“The fact that a group of people came together under a common name to pursue a common agenda of attaining political power does not make them a legal person capable of suing or being sued,” he said.
He also noted that the MDC-Alliance was formed as a non-compete electoral pact through a written agreement and that agreement clearly stated that the duration of the pact would be five years — while also providing that any variation of the agreement would be made in writing.
“There is no rebuttal acceptable before me to set out that the MDC-Alliance is a juristic person … The MDC-Alliance agreement had a lifespan of five years. There is no variation of the agreement.
“The question then comes: Does the MDC-Alliance have any instrument of incorporation that allows it to sue or be sued? While they can properly be called a political party, does it make it a juristic person?” Chitapi asked.