MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson and deputy mayor Gift Banda has dragged party deputy president, Thokozani Khupe, to court for allegedly grabbing the opposition party’s provincial offices.
Khupe stands accused of locking out party president Nelson Chamisa’s followers as the fight for leadership of the party escalates.
The latest development came two weeks after Khupe and Chamisa’s supporters violently clashed over control of the party offices, leading to the arrest of Banda, Mlandu Ncube and 11 other activists.
On Wednesday, Banda took the matter to the High Court, seeking a ruling ordering Khupe’s allies to vacate the Bulawayo offices. In his urgent High Court chamber application, Banda through his lawyers Mathonsi Law Chambers, sought an order barring Khupe and her allies from disrupting and interfering with party business conducted at the Bulawayo offices.
“I submit that this matter is urgent because as a province we have nowhere else to operate from as all lawful structures of the party under my control and supervision have been excluded from accessing the offices at a critical time when we are processing candidate selection and preparing for crucial elections,” he said in his founding affidavit.
“I seek this honourable court’s protection and intervention on an urgent basis from the unlawful actions of the respondents in despoiling me of control and occupation of our provincial offices. The practice is that any organ of Bulawayo province intending to use the party offices is required to seek my authority. I, as a matter of fact, grant such authority for all legitimate and lawful activities for the province,” he added.
Khupe, her personal assistant Witness Dube, the party’s national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe and close allies Artwell Sibanda, Gershom Zimba, Samson Mubhemi, Elliot Doctor Moyo, Mthokozisi Ncube and Mbuso Sibanda, were cited as respondents.
Khupe yesterday said she would file her opposing papers today.
“I will not comment on the matter which is before the courts, but we will be filing opposing papers supported by the rest of respondents cited by Banda,” Khupe said through her aide.
Chamisa took over leadership of the MDC-T last month following the death of party founder Morgan Tsvangirai. Although Chamisa’s elevation was endorsed by the party’s national council, Khupe insists she was the bona fide party leader as she was the only one among Tsvangirai’s three deputies who was elected at congress.
Chamisa last week told party supporters during a rally at Cross Dete, Matabeleland North province, that he was engaging Khupe to find closure to the leadership dispute.