Speaker Accused Of Blocking Biti’s Reinstatement As Rukanda Appeals Court’s Ruling

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By Anna Chibamu and Mary Taruvinga

ZENGEZA West legislator and MDC Alliance Deputy Chairperson Job Sikhala has accused Speaker Jacob Mudenda of ignoring a High Court judgment that ordered the reinstatement of Tendai Biti and five other recalled MPs.

Biti was recalled with five other MPs who were voted into the House of Assembly on behalf of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The recalls were made after a factional secretary general of the PDP general Benjamin Rukanda had written to Mudenda last month recalling the MPs.

The affected MPs are; Willias Madzimure of Kambuzuma, Settlement Chikwinya – Mbizo, Kucaca Phulu – Nkulumane), Sichelesile Mahlangu – Pumula and Regai Tsunga – Mutasa South.

However, last week, High Court judge Amy Tsanga ruled Rukanda had no legal standing to recall the MPs and they should be reinstated as lawmakers. However, the six MPs have not been reinstated forcing Sikhala to question Mudenda over the delay.

“Mr Speaker Sir, you read a letter of recall but the letter, however, was recently set aside by an order of the High Court, where the Members have been asked to be reinstated,” Sikhala said in the House of Assembly Wednesday.

“My understanding is that you were served with the court order. This is what I obtained from the Members who who have been recalled and that you have turned down their re-admission to this House. So, may I seek clarity from you Chair?”

However, in response Mudenda warned Sikhala not to rely on hearsay and ordered him to withdraw his statement and the opposition MP complied with order.

“I do not announce letters of recall, I read them. Withdraw your statement. You see as a lawyer Hon. Sikhala, you are relying on hearsay from a third party in which you are not involved. That is not admissible and I cannot entertain hearsay messages,” said Mudenda.

“What I can entertain is an approach by the affected party or parties to the issue, then I will respond to them accordingly.”

Meanwhile, Rukanda has filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court blocking Justice Tsanga’s ruling nullifying the expulsion of the six MPs from Parliament.

Rukanda wants an order stopping the execution of the judgment arguing the legislators cannot be representatives in a party they no longer belong to.

He said their interests are now in the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa adding that a default judgment was handed down because he was not served with the urgent chamber application.

In the certificate of urgency, his lawyer Everson Chatambudza said the dispute between the parties has not been resolved on the merits.

“The respondents obtained a default judgment against the second applicant on the 14th of April 2021 under case HC 5292/29. The applicants have filed application for recession of the default order under case 1551/21 challenging the default order and its consequences. The matter is still pending before the Honourable Court,” he said.

“The effect of the order is to render all other pending matters academic on a technicality without dealing with the real dispute between the parties on merits. The default order declared the second respondent who defected to another political party as the SG (secretary general) whose interests he is no longer representing hence first applicant would suffer irreparable harm. Further, 19th, 11th and 12th respondents might act according to the default order to the detriment of the applicants,” said Chatambudza.

Rukanda supported Chatambudza stating that he was never given a chance to respond.

“Upon verification it was discovered that the purported summons upon which the default judgment was based had not been served on me at the time they were issued as alleged, ” he said.

“Further when I obtained a copy of the urgent chamber application from the High Court for the purposes of preparing an opposition to the confirmation of the provisional order, the summons had not been served on me. To make matters worse when my legal practitioners filed the opposing papers to the confirmation not the provisional order the summons had not been served.

Rukanda added; “the summons were served under strange circumstances when respondent knew very well that I was legally represented with my current lawyer.”

In her ruling, Justice Tsanga said Chikwinya remained the secretary general of the PDP and ruled Rukanda’s letter was null and void.

Rukanda’s appeal is yet to be heard.