MDC Alliance a party: Court
By Moses Matenga
The High Court has ruled that the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance is a political entity, adding more fire to the on-going fight for the control of the opposition party.
In a ruling issued last week in a matter between the MDC Alliance versus the Finance ministry and the Justice ministry and the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Justice Munangati Manongwa granted an interim order requested by Chamisa to stop the disbursement of $7,5 million under the Political Parties Finance Act to the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T.
On March 31, Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court declared Chamisa’s leadership of the main opposition party illegitimate and ordered Khupe, who leads the smaller rival MDC formation to hold an election to replace him within three months.
Khupe then moved to take control of the party, recalling four MDC Alliance leaders from Parliament.
But Chamisa sought an interdict barring government from releasing the funds under the Political Parties Finance Act to her faction.
The judgment acknowledged the MDC Alliance as a political party.
“The applicant herein is a political party with capacity to sue and be sued. The applicant has approached the court on an urgent basis seeking the following relief…,” the ruling read.
According to the ruling, the MDC Alliance, represented by Alec Muchadehama, approached the courts to stop government from disbursing $7 492 500 due to the applicant to any party other than the Chamisa-led entity.
“It is not disputed that the MDC Alliance gained more than 5% of the votes entitling it to benefit from the provisions of the Political Parties Finance Act,” part of the ruling read.
“The entitlement in the aforesaid sum was duly confirmed in a Government Gazette of 28 February 2020. The Ministry of Justice officials assured the MDC Alliance that the monies were to be deposited in the applicant’s account.
“This more than satisfies the requirement of prima facie right. There is proof that the State acknowledges the applicant’s entitlement,” the ruling read.
The ruling further stated that there was evidence that government intended to give the money to another party which was not the MDC Alliance and said there was justification for fears that the finances would end up in the hands of other people.
“When the court considers the evidence placed before it, the conclusion that the applicant (MDC Alliance) has shown a well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm is inescapable. There is evidence of publications to the effect that there is a likelihood of the applicant’s entitlement being paid to a different entity other than applicant.
“An attempt to seek clarity failed to provide an assurance that the first respondent does not intend to so act. The applicant is thus within its right to fear that it may lose its entitlement to a third party and not be able to retrieve such a considerable sum of money.”
The ruling added: “I reiterate that the applicant does not seek to have funds disbursed to it at this stage, such that there was no need to have even opposed the relief sought as the funds would still remain in the first respondent’s coffers until the court finally decides the dispute.
“Given the aforegoing and conscious of the degree of proof required at this stage, I find that the applicant has satisfied the requirements for granting of an interim interdict. The court in exercising its discretion finds this to be a proper case for the granting of a provisional order,” the judge said before granting the relief sought.
MDC Alliance deputy secretary-general Jameson Timba said: “The judgment acknowledged that president Chamisa was elected as president of the MDC Alliance in Gweru last year. It also acknowledged that he contested elections as a candidate of MDC Alliance.
“The Ministry of Justice has previously disbursed funds to MDC Alliance. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Parliament records show there is a party called MDC Alliance. It boggles my mind that any rational person would wake up today and say that party does not exist both at law and in reality. It can only be malicious to do so.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said he was in a meeting.
The long-standing battles in the MDC formations have taken several twists and turns and a number of them are awaiting determination in the courts. The High Court is tomorrow expected to determine a challenge brought by Chalton Hwende and Prosper Mutseyami challenging their recall by Khupe’s MDC-T following the Supreme Court judgment declaring Chamisa an illegitimate leader.
Khupe was arguing that the MDC Alliance was not a party, but an umbrella body for a group of political parties.
Today, the High Court is continuing with a matter in which MDC Alliance is seeking to interdict Mwonzora from recalling its MPs after the recall of four of its legislators — Hwende, Mutseyami, Thabitha Khumalo and Lillian Timveous early this month.
The Supreme Court is also expected to hand down a ruling in a case where the MDC Alliance is seeking to block Mwonzora from recalling party MPs. NewsDay