By Moses Matenga
The fight for control of the country’s main opposition party took a new twist yesterday, with 151 out of a possible 200 members who constituted the MDC-T 2014 national council structures rallying behind MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa .
The meeting also rejected the recent Supreme Court ruling which recognised Thokozani Khupe as the bona fide acting party president.
The party structures met in Harare yesterday and accused Khupe, her now secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and chairman Morgen Komichi of advancing Zanu PF interests.
The meeting followed the Supreme Court ruling made in March which declared Khupe the acting president and ordered the party to urgently hold an extraordinary congress to elect new leadership using structures that existed in 2014 when party founder Morgan Tsvangirai (now late) was still at the helm.
Armed with the ruling, Khupe, who contested the 2018 presidential polls under the banner of the MDC-T, rushed to recall Chamisa’s four MDC Alliance legislators claiming they had contested the polls on an MDC-T ticket.
But yesterday, the leaders of the 2014 structures, who constituted both the national council and the national executive, met and deliberated on the Supreme Court judgment before summoning the 2014 national standing committee, including Mwonzora and Komichi, to a meeting to map the way forward on June 6.
In a communiqué read out by the former deputy secretary-general of the 2014 structures Paurina Mpariwa, the party accused Khupe, Mwonzora and Komichi of acting unilaterally without consulting the 2014 structures.
“We, the leaders of the former national council of the former MDC, resolved in terms of the constitution to petition the former national standing committee members, including Komichi and Mwonzora, to facilitate a national council meeting within 14 days — on June 6 — to respond to the Supreme Court judgment at a venue that achieves compliance with COVID-19 lockdown regulations,” Mpariwa said.
The meeting also resolved to stop Mwonzora, Komichi and Khupe from masquerading as MDC leaders until issues have been ironed out at the June 6 meeting.
“The Supreme Court judgment enjoined the former MDC to convene an extraordinary congress within three months and further went on to give the former VP Khupe, who at the point of Dr Tsvangirai’s death was no longer a member, having ceased attending constitutional meetings in June 2017, to be a member of the party,” Mpariwa said.
“The judgment further instructed Komichi, the former vice-chairperson of the former MDC, to convene the extraordinary congress in the event of the failure by the former vice-president.
What is bizarre is that the judgment elevates the former vice-chairperson to the position of chairperson despite that the former chairperson was Lovemore Moyo and he had not told the court that he was unable to execute his duties.”
She said the 2014 structures “fundamentally disagree with the Supreme Court decision” as its calls for an extra-ordinary congress came as the need for an extraordinary congress does not exist anymore.
“President Tsvangirai died on February 14, 2018 and the acting leader was supposed to act for one year to February 2019 and the next congress was due in October 2019. As such, no court can rewrite the rules of a voluntary association,” she said.
“The terms of all office bearers and organs of the former MDC mandate expired in October 2019 and it cannot be revived without condonation and authority of the membership.
“The judgment does not specify the structure that is going to implement the legacy and historical issues and the term of office of the so-elected president at the extraordinary congress.”
Mpariwa said it was a matter of concern that Mwonzora was now acting unilaterally to recall MDC Alliance MPs.
The recalled legislators were Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura-Chikanga), who was also the party’s chief whip in Parliament, Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Tabitha Khumalo (proportional representative, Bulawayo province) and senator Lillian Timveous (Midlands).
“We have also seen that the former secretary-general of the former MDC is now unilaterally, vindictively and against the rule of law abusing the judgment, usurping the powers of the lawful organs, now writing to Parliament and the Minister of Local Government.
For the avoidance of doubt, all the recalls are not bound by lawfulness and, therefore, null and void,” Mpariwa said.
“The purported July 31 date of the extra-ordinary congress is illegal and invalid because it was done unilaterally and against the constitution of the former MDC.”
But Mwonzora said yesterday’s meeting was illegal and contravened the lockdown regulations.
“Why would they call for an illegal meeting? If they are saying no consultations were made, that is not true. The national council met and we had a quorum, we made resolutions,” he said.
“It can never be a national council meeting that is not called by the secretary-general, the acting chairman or the acting president.
“So it is a group of people who are just factional and decided to come together in contravention of the MDC constitution and the laws of the regulations on COVID-19 makes me doubt the figures.” News Day