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Khupe suffers setback

An application by Thokozani Khupe to challenge the High Court’s jurisdiction in presiding over cases brought by recalled MDC Alliance legislators was dismissed by Justice Pisirai Kwenda.

Thokozani Khupe (centre) surrounded by Douglas Mwonzora (left), Elias Mudzuri and Morgen Komichi (right)
Thokozani Khupe (centre) surrounded by Douglas Mwonzora (left), Elias Mudzuri and Morgen Komichi (right)

The former main opposition legislators, Chalton Hwende, Prosper Mutseyami, Thabitha Khumalo and Lilian Timveos approached the High Court after they were booted out of Parliament by Khupe and their seats declared vacant.

Khupe through reinstated MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora used a March Supreme Court ruling that declared illegitimate, Nelson Chamisa’s leadership of opposition left by late leader Morgan Tsvangirai who died in 2018 from cancer of the colon

The recalled legislators through their lawyer Tendai Biti cited Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, Mwonzora, Khupe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as respondents.

Justice Kwenda, ruled that the High Court had jurisdiction to entertain the matter, setting aside Khupe’s application that was filed by his lawyer Lovemore Madhuku.

Madhuku had argued that the matter could not take off in the High Court, arguing that the Constitution only mandated the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) to decide on any matters involving the President or Parliament.

“According to Section 167 of the Constitution, only the Con-Court has jurisdiction to determine whether a president or Parliament has failed to fulfil a constitutional mandate … This clearly shows that the applicants have approached the wrong court,” Madhuku said.

However, Biti responded saying the Con-Court was relevant in confirming an order issued by the High Court, but did not take away its powers to preside over matters involving the president or Parliament.

He said that Mwonzora did not have the authority to recall MDC Alliance MPs, adding that the Supreme Court judgment which declared Khupe the acting leader in March did not make them substantive leaders since they are yet to convene a congress for that purpose.

“The only caveat is that the order has no force and effect unless confirmed by the Con-Court.

“The Supreme Court judgment gives a narrow bridge versus the succession issue, but now Mwonzora thinks he has powers. The judgment cannot be vandalised in the manner that Mwonzora is doing,” argued Biti.

“That judgment presupposes freezing of a button until someone fills the big shoes of the late leader Morgan Tsvangirai. So, when Mwonzora writes those letters he cannot derive paternity from that judgment.

“That judgment was to remedy the mischief of the manner in which Tsvangirai was succeeded.

“Mwonzora does not become the secretary-general, but is there for purposes of creating a road map to the congress,” Biti said.

The matter continues on October 30.