Thokozani Khupe in congress U-Turn
INTERIM MDC president Thokozani Khupe has made a dramatic extra-ordinary congress U-turn after she rolled back the new dates she had set for the Indaba to the original July 31 date, the Daily News on Sunday reports.
This comes as MDC-T deputy spokesperson Khaliphani Phugeni announced last week that the party’s court-directed extra-ordinary congress which was originally slated for next month (where a substantive new party boss was to be chosen) had been postponed to between September 4 and 6 this year. This was on account of the leadership’s desire to ensure public safety as well as the limitations brought about by the coronavirus national lockdown which disallows gatherings of more than 50 people.
But yesterday, Phugeni told the Daily News on Sunday that the party’s lawyers were consulting to establish if there is no potential to violate the Supreme Court ruling directing that the congress be held three months after the ruling was handed down on March 31; with a view to changing the dates.
“Our lawyers had an understanding that when the Chief Justice handed the judgment that directed us to hold an extraordinary congress in three months; he had given us a six-week extension. The lawyers are now engaging the Chief Justice to get clarity on the matter and we are going to inform the nation if there are any changes when we get feedback from the authorities,” Phugeni said.
When the announcement to postpone the dates was made, MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora insisted that it would not be a violation of the March Supreme Court ruling.
“When the ruling was handed down, the Chief Justice (Luke Malaba) made a blanket extension of time limits by six weeks.
“The three months deadline was due to expire on July 31, but there is a six-week period we were given which means that the extra-ordinary congress will have to be held on or before the 15th of September. We are, therefore, working on any date between now and then,” Mwonzora told the Daily News on Sunday. “We are expecting the Covid-19 figures to go down as we approach summer, but we are going to be working on the advice of ministry of Health officials.
“There are a number of other options which include finding ways to reduce the numbers which will attend congress at the material time. One of the other possibilities is to decentralise the congress or to seek an extension in the courts. That of course is not an option we would like.”
But MDC-T lawyer Lovemore Madhuku told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that Malaba had not given the party the green light to push the congress dates.
“It will be wrong for them to say the Chief Justice gave them the green light to push dates forward. What they are trying to do is to take advantage of the directive he gave to suspend court activities except for urgent cases when the Covid-19 lockdown started on March 31. The directive had nothing to do with their congress so it is their own interpretation to say if some activities were prevented from happening, we also could argue that we were bound by that directive which expired on the 11th of May. However, that is subject to a different interpretation as well. Someone could argue otherwise,” Madhuku said.