By Gladys Kudzaishe Hlatywayo
Hardly 48hrs into the national lockdown on account of the devastating Covid 19, Zimbabwe was ambushed by a non-urgent court ruling and a futile attempt to destroy our party by the Mnangagwa regime, working in cahoots with some gullible elements in the people’s party.
The court ruling upheld the May 8 2019 High Court ruling that ruled that Thokozani Khupe, the leader of the MDC T is the Acting President of the Movement for Democratic Change following the death of President Morgan Richard Tsvangirai and should within 3 months convene a Congress to elect a substantive President, failure of which Morgen Komichi as the then Chairperson must do the same within 4 months.
The judgement and the manner it was handed down was fundamentally flawed on several fronts:
1. The timing of the ruling exposes machinations of the regime and its enablers in destabilising the authentic opposition. The non-urgent ruling was delivered despite the national lockdown to combat Covid 19 and a communication from Chief Justice Malaba that the courts were only going to entertain urgent matters. The case was not an urgent matter and judgement had been reserved since October 2019.
2.The beneficiaries of the ruling appeared to know the contents of the ruling ahead of the court ruling. In a tweet several hours before the ruling, Thokozani Khupe was more than optimistic and already called for ‘unity’ to ‘renew and build our great party’.
Similarly, as he stepped out of the courtroom, Mr Morgen Komichi delivered a 4 paged prepared speech to the press which had aspects of the judgement, pointing to the fact that he had prior in-depth knowledge of the judgement.
3.There is a baffling attempt to conflate MDC Alliance and MDC T despite the fact that these are two separate political entities that contested the 2018 elections as such, are represented in Parliament as separate parties and went on to hold separate congresses, a point that is acknowledged by the ruling and yet the court still goes ahead to give a moot judgement.
4. This particular case was brought against MDC T and not MDC Alliance. The ruling has therefore no legal effect on MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
5.Leaders of voluntary organisations are chosen by the membership and not forced on the membership by the courts. The MDC Alliance held its Congress in May 2019 and elected its leadership led by President Advocate Nelson Chamisa. The next Congress is scheduled for 2024.
6. The ploy also targets assets such as our headquarters: Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, provincial party offices and financial resources among others. The state through the police is already aiding Mr Komichi’s attempts to seize these properties.
This is despite the fact that the judgement does not grant such powers to the police and the properties are not registered in the name of any of the MDC outfits but of an independent Trust.
It follows that any seizure must be supported by a court order. The regime shall also attempt to unlawfully divert resources under the Political Parties Finance Act to Thokozani Khupe and her associates despite the clear distinction between MDC T and MDC Alliance.
Some have queried why the MDC Alliance appealed to the Supreme Court following the May 2019 High Court ruling in light of the apparent party-state conflation. The MDC Alliance was under no illusions that the relief sought was to be granted. It was rather a tactical move to ensure that the May Congress in Gweru was not stopped using the May 2019 High Court ruling.
The MDC Alliance will resist the Zanu PF engineered machinations to destroy the people’s movement. Our comfort is that Zanu PF can never dispossess us of the more than 2 million people who believe in us and President Advocate Chamisa.
Gladys Kudzaishe Hlatywayo, Secretary for International Relations, MDC Alliance