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Another Chamisa blow as court rules MDC Alliance not a political party

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By Staff Reporter/Agencies


MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s bid to save the beleaguered opposition has been dealt another blow after the High Court Friday ruled a party called by that name does not exist as a legal person who can sue in court.

This follows a challenge filed by MDC-A against the MDC-T’s recall of four legislators elected on the MDC-A ticket.

The affected legislators are Charlton Hwende, Thabitha Khumalo, Lilian Timveous and Prosper Mutseyami.

High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi ruled that the dispute of the MDC-T recall of legislators does not have the standing to sue.

The court rule meant MPs recalled from parliament by a faction led by reinstated party leader Thokozani Khupe may bring legal actions as individuals.

In his ruling, Justice Chitapi said the only evidence brought before his court showed that MDC-A was an alliance of other political parties.

The court further ruled that although MDC Alliance had been given the status of a political party under the Electoral Act, this did not make it a legal person able to sue and be sued, in the absence of other requirements such as a decision to be a legally incorporated voluntary organisation or another type of body corporate.

The court did not go into the merits of the case, first having to decide the preliminary issues raised by the MDC-T’s legal team as to whether MDC-A has the legal standing to bring the suit and whether the court has the power to interdict a parliamentary process.

Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled that MDC-A had no legal right and responsibility to sue on behalf of the recalled legislators and threw out the application.

He accepted the argument by Professor Lovemeore Madhuku, acting for the MDC-T, that the alliance had failed to establish that it had reached the stage of being a legal person with the consequent legal capacity to sue and be sued.

“Accordingly, the application must fail as it is incompetent by reason” of the MDC-A’s legal incapacity, said Justice Chitapi.

The finding of the court on the MDC-A legal status had a bearing on two legislators — Happymore Chidziva and Wellington Mariga — who associated themselves with the party’s application seeking to block further recalls and expulsions from Parliament of any more MPs elected into Parliament on the MDC-A ticket.

The two felt they were under threat of such a recall and expulsion following the expulsion of the first four.

“Therefore, the finding of invalidity of the application for the given reason herein requires that the application is dismissed rather than struck off the roll,” said the judge.

“The application is and it is accordingly, dismissed with costs… ”

In his ruling, Justice Chitapi found that the MDC Alliance Agreement constituted the entire agreement of the parties to it, but did not spell out the legal status of the MDC-Alliance.

“It says nothing about whether it is a legal persona with power to sue and be sued or, whether it exists separately from the parties to it,” said Justice Chitapi.

“It is just a political cooperation agreement for contestation of the 2018 elections.”