EMBATTLED MDC-T deputy president, Thokozani Khupe and her allies face imminent arrest after they allegedly defied a recent High Court order, barring them from occupying the party’s Bulawayo provincial offices.
The provisional order, granted by Justice Maxwell Takuva, came after MDC-T Bulawayo chairman, Gift Banda, accused Khupe and her team of disturbing provincial party programmes by illegally occupying the offices.
Khupe grabbed the party’s Bulawayo offices on March 4, as she challenged Nelson Chamisa’s recent nomination as substantive party leader.
Following the court order, Khupe’s personal assistant, Witness Dube issued a statement saying the party offices were accessible to all party members regardless of the differences.
The statement which was written on an MDC-T letterhead and originated from Khupe’s office read: “May I also clarify that the purported eviction of MDC-T acting president from the Bulawayo provincial offices through a High Court ‘spoliation order’ is grossly misleading piece of information. Dr Khupe’s opposing affidavit to that was sought by Bulawayo provincial chairperson (Banda) was expressly for challenging the false allegations which Banda has stated in his founding affidavit.
“MDC-T Bulawayo office was and must always remain accessible to all members of the party regardless of differences in points of view and opinion.”
Part of the court order read: “It be and is, hereby, declared that the actions of the respondents in depriving the applicant and all those claiming through their peaceful and undisturbed occupation of no 41A Fort Street Bulawayo by forcibly taking over occupation, possession and control of the aforesaid premises are unlawful.
“It be and is, hereby, declared and ordered that respondents and their agents shall not in any way disturb applicant and those claiming through his occupation and control of the aforesaid premises. That respondents shall pay the costs of suit on a legal practitioner client scale in their personal capacities jointly and severally the one paying the others to be absolved.”
Takuva said pending the finalisation of the case, the applicant is granted the relief that the Sheriff of the High Court of Zimbabwe or his lawful deputy or assistant in Bulawayo is, hereby, directed to take all such steps and measures as are legally necessary to evict Khupe and her allies from the offices,… and restore the applicant and others into peaceful occupation of the property.
“Respondents and or their agents and anyone claiming through them be and are, hereby, prohibited from interfering with and or disrupting any meetings, programmes and activities of the applicant and from vandalising any property of the MDC-T,” Takuva ruled.
“In the event of the respondents or their agents … failing, neglecting or refusing to comply with the order, the member in charge Bulawayo Central Police Station or any of his details or any police or peace officer in Zimbabwe be and is hereby directed to arrest and detain the respondents and any such or person as may be aiding the respondents and take them to court of contempt jurisdiction on charges of contempt of court or any such competent charges for prosecution according to the law.”
Yesterday, Khupe’s allies Abednico Bhebhe (organising secretary) and suspended party spokesperson Obert Gutu issued conflicting statements on the way forward following their fallout with party leader Nelson Chamisa.
Addressing a rally in Bulawayo which was attended by about 600 people, Bhebhe spoke in a conciliatory tone, while Gutu maintained the MDC-T had all but split over the leadership dispute.
“We do not want to have a Zanu PF habit of beating and killing each other whenever there is a dispute and this is why we are saying if we do not follow the constitution, we risk being another version of Zanu PF,” Gutu said.
“We are drawing the line in the sand to say we are not going to be forced to associate with characters that are violent.”
Bhebhe, in his address, admitted all was not well in the party, saying the differences can only be solved if feuding parties adhere to the party’s constitution.
“If you see name-calling, people describing others as dissidents, you then get to appreciate that all is not well in the party. The fact that we are meeting here, and others in Gweru is all, but a clear sign that all is not well in the party,” Bhebhe said.
“I want to say if we are to work together, it is important that we put democracy and constitutionalism first. There is a problem in the party if we are to have people beating each other over differing views.”
The Khupe rally ran concurrently with Chamisa’s MDC Alliance rally in Gweru.
Chamisa last week told party supporters during a rally in Dete, Matabeleland North, he was engaging Khupe to find closure to the leadership dispute, but reportedly told party supporters during an MDC Alliance rally in Kwekwe on Saturday that he was fast-losing patience with Khupe, insinuating that she might be expelled soon.