Lawyers for the Nelson Chamisa-led Bulawayo MDC executive have approached the High Court here to challenge their ban from using the opposition party’s provincial headquarters, hoping for a green light that will allow them to use the offices that have been seized by Thokozani Khupe.
In an urgent High Court chamber application filed this week, Bulawayo provincial chairperson Gift Banda appealed against their banishment from the office by Khupe, who is claiming to be the legitimate MDC leader.
The application for a spoliation order seeks to restore “Stand No 41A, Fort Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue, Bulawayo” to Banda who was “in peaceful and undisturbed occupation and possession of the property in his capacity as the chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change- Tsvangirai (MDC-T) Bulawayo Province.”
Thokozani Khupe and her supporters namely Abednigo Bhebhe, Witness Dube, Artwell Sibanda, Gershom Zimba, Samson Mubhemi, Elliot Doctor Moyo, Mthokozisi Ncube and Mbuso Sibanda are all cited as respondents respectively.
Strangely, the 8th respondent cited is Mthokozisi Ncube, the Secretary General of the Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ). Ncube allegedly participated in the violent takeover of the offices.
Court papers state that the MDC-T members are being “excluded from their offices during a crucial election period when they need their offices the most for use around election matters such as the processing of candidate coordination and administratively servicing their structures in preparation for an election to be held anytime between 22 July and 22 August this year.”
Failure to grant the spoliation order “might even encourage counter violence … as young members might feel that the law has been unable to come to their aid,” says the document.
Banda is praying that the High Court orders Khupe and eight other respondents “not to interfere with Applicant’s occupation,” that they are “prohibited from interfering with and/or disrupting any meetings, programmes and activities” or from “vandalising any property of the MDC-T.”
He is asking the court to direct the member-in-charge, Bulawayo Central Police Station or any of his details “to arrest and detain” Khupe or her agents if they refuse to comply with the spoliation order.
Through propaganda, such as flooding social media with third respondent, Witness Dube’s pictures, Khupe’s supporters portrayed themselves as victims while concealing the fact that they had violently seized the party offices, the application alleges.