By Albert Nxumalo
The leadership of the MDC Alliance party says they are unfazed by the Supreme Court judgment delivered on Tuesday which declared party president Nelson Chamisa an illegitimate leader of the movement with party structures pledging unwavering loyalty to the youthful leader.
The judgment which was largely not expected to be handed due to the nationwide lockdown to help curb the spread of Coronavirus installed Dr Thokozani Khupe as the acting president of the MDC.
However, Khupe, the former MDC-T vice president during the leadership of the late Dr Morgan Tsvangirai is the leader of the MDC-T faction and contested the 2018 presidential elections.
When Tsvangirai passed on, Chamisa took over the leadership of the party and was subsequently elected as the new leader at the party`s 2019 elective congress in Gweru.
The case arose following a challenge by former Organizing Secretary for Gokwe District Elias Mashavira who felt that the party constitution had been violated in the appointment of certain leaders.
Chamisa was found on the wrong side prompting him and Morgan Komichi to challenge the High Court ruling handed in May last year which declared that Chamisa was illegitimately elected to lead the opposition party.
The appeal forced Khupe to file her own application last October asking the Supreme Court to throw out Chamisa’s appeal on legitimacy to enable her to hold an extraordinary congress and rebuild the party.
The court reserved judgement.
However, on Tuesday, Supreme Court Judge Justice Bharat Patel, sitting together with Justices Paddington Garwe and Antonia Guvava, ruled that Chamisa is not the legitimate MDC leader.
According to the 42 paged judgment, the dismissal of Chamisa’s appeal reinstated Khupe as the legitimate opposition leader.
Reads part of the judgment: “The third respondent, in her capacity as the Acting President (Khupe) of the first appellant, be and is hereby ordered to convene an Extra-Ordinary Congress, within a period of three months from the date of this order, in order to elect a new President”.
It added, “In the event that the third respondent fails or is unable to comply with paragraph 3 above, the third appellant, in his capacity as the National Chairperson of the first appellant, be and is hereby ordered to convene the aforesaid Extra-Ordinary Congress, within a period of four months from the date of this order”.
Reacting to the verdict, Chamisa’s deputy Professor Welshman Ncube scoffed at the judgment.
“Legally, the MDC Alliance was not before the court and cannot be bound by a judgement to which it is not a party and which in any event is not directed at it. Politically, the people always decide. Period” said Ncube on Tuesday evening.
He revealed that on March 10, he warned Komichi and Douglas Mwonzora on rival ZanuPF’s interest and plans on the court case.
“At the last meeting of the MDC Alliance Standing Committee on 10 March 2020, I put to Komichi and Mwonzora the entire ZANU-PF strategy on the Khupe case and their respective roles in that strategy. Their denials of both the ZANU-PF strategy and their roles thereto were vehement.
“I ended the debate by telling them that while we had no choice but to give them the benefit of the doubt on the day of the handing down of the judgement we will know the truth. Today we know.
“I also told them that the MDC- Alliance had already held its Congress and would not hold another one and that the leadership elected at Congress was not negotiable and would never be determined by courts of law but only by the members of the party. That was true on that day as it is true today”.
Party Treasurer General and lawyer David Coltart said he fully backs Chamisa.
“My position is that we as MDC A held our Congress in May 2019. @nelsonchamisa is our President and our next Congress is 2023. Full stop. I agree #WeStandWithChamisa “.
Matabeleland South Provincial chairman Solani Moyo said they “stand firmly and will continue to support come fire or brimstone” Chamisa and his entire leadership as elected during the party’s congress in 2019.
“We reject this unwelcome outcome and it will be met with equal force of justification of the highest order of such a provocation,” he said in a statement.