Supreme Court reserves judgement in MDC leadership row

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE Supreme Court has indefinitely reserved judgement in a case in which MDC leader Nelson Chamisa is challenging a ruling by the High Court declaring his leadership as illegitimate.

In May this year, the High Court ruled that former party vice president and breakaway leader, Thokozani Khupe was the legitimate head of the country’s main opposition.

The High Court decision followed a challenge filed earlier by party activist, Elias Mashavira.

Chamisa, then co-vice president with Khupe, muscled his way to the helm of MDC when founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer February 14 last year.

Aggrieved by the High Court outcome, Chamisa and his then deputy, Morgen Komichi appealed the ruling through the Supreme Court.

He cited as respondents, Mashavira, Elias Mudzuri and Khupe,

Mudzuri was appointed co-VP by Tsvangirai in 2016 while Khupe was elected during a party congress in 2014.

Last week, Chamisa, through his lawyer, Thabani Mpofu, made a court application to have Mudzuri and Khupe removed as respondents, leaving Mashavira as sole respondent.

Chamisa, through his lawyer, said Khupe was not the one who made the legitimacy challenge although she was said to be the rightful MDC leader by the courts.

However, Khupe, through her own lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku opposed the application for withdrawal, saying she had interests in the case as her name was involved, an argument which the Supreme Court bench chaired by Justice Paddington Garwe upheld.

When hearing into the case continued Wednesday, Madhuku submitted that if Chamisa’s appeal was to be thrown out, Khupe should be reinstated with everything superintended over by Chamisa during the latter’s controversial tenure reversed.

“If we get the order, we will go back and start from February 15, 2018. All the meetings that took place after February 15 by Chamisa were unlawful,” he said.

“The president (Tsvangirai) did not have the power to appoint persons that ought to be elected.

“There is no point in evoking domestic remedies when it is clear they have been undermined. We pray for an order that will enable Khupe to hold an extra ordinary congress.”

But Mpofu said Tsvangirai had the blessings of party supporters.

“The court cannot decide on voluntary associations especially where there is unanimous agreement, more so, if it’s the affairs of the party. It creates awkwardness,” said Mpofu.