Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

MDC to appeal ’empty thunder’ court ruling on Chamisa leadership

By Tony Karombo | ZimLive.com |

A High Court judgment declaring Nelson Chamisa an illegitimate president of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is “empty thunder” and will be appealed, a party lawyer said.

Leader of Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party, Nelson Chamisa is seen during an interview with the Associated Press in Harare, Thursday, March, 8, 2018. Chamisa is a charismatic lawyer and trained pastor who seeks to capitalize on goodwill towards his deceased predecessor and highlight the past of his military backed opponent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Leader of Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party, Nelson Chamisa is seen during an interview with the Associated Press in Harare, Thursday, March, 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Justice Edith Mushore, in a judgement delivered on Wednesday, said former leader Morgan Tsvangirai broke the party constitution when he appointed three vice presidents months before his death. Further, Chamisa’s assumption of the MDC presidency following Tsvangirai’s death was “unconstitutional and therefore null and void”.

The judge directed the party to hold an extraordinary congress within a month using party structures that existed in 2014, the time of the last congress.

David Coltart, a senior MDC official and lawyer, said the judge was interfering with the MDC’s internal processes.

“It will be appealed. This is what is called a brutum fulmen – ‘empty thunder’, an ineffective order. By the time the appeal is heard a duly constituted Congress of the MDC will have been held and Nelson Chamisa elected. It’s a pathetic interference with the due process of a party,” Coltart said.

The challenge to Chamisa’s leadership was brought in September last year by Elias Mashavira, a party organiser in Gokwe. He argued that Tsvangirai had acted contrary to the constitution when he appointed Elias Mudzuri and Chamisa as additional vice presidents, joining Thokozani Khupe who was elected to the position at the 2014 congress.

Mashavira also argued that Chamisa’s assumption of the party leadership following Tsvangirai’s death in February last year, with the support of the party’s national council, was unconstitutional if done outside an extra-ordinary congress as outlined in the party constitution.

Judgement was reserved on March 14 this year, just as the MDC announced that it was holding an ordinary congress from May 24 to 26 to elect new leadership.

The judgment will be scrutinised for its far-reaching implications in the coming days, although an MDC appeal will put it on ice with the appeal not set to be heard until well after the congress.