The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the High Court to urgently resolve a feud between the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC camp and a rival camp led by Thokozani Khupe which is insisting on using the party name and symbols.
This comes after the Chamisa-led MDC camp filed a Supreme Court application seeking to have its appeal contesting a High Court verdict which gave leeway to the Khupe camp to use the party name and symbols to be heard on an urgent basis.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba yesterday granted an order for the urgent hearing of the matter.
The matter has been set down for hearing before the Supreme Court on May 22. Advocate Thabani Mpofu appeared for the MDC and Lovemore Madhuku for Khupe.
In the application, MDC, which is represented by Thabani Mpofu, is the applicant, while Khupe, Obert Gutu and Abednico Bhebhe, are cited as respondents.
According to MDC national chairperson Morgen Komichi’s affidavit, the matter had to be heard on an urgent basis because time was running out before the holding of the next elections.
“The 2018 general elections are imminent and the use by the respondents of applicant’s name and symbol(s) was always going to be prejudicial to both applicant and the general conduct of the elections. Put differently, the question could not await determination on the ordinary roll otherwise any relief that would be availed at a later stage would be hollow,” Komichi said.
The appeal comes after Bulawayo High Court judge Francis Bere referred the case for arbitration, following preliminary points raised by Khupe and company.
He said the court erred in making pronouncements on substantive issues which were not before it and which parties had not advanced an argument.
“The court a quo seriously misdirected itself, such misdirection amounting to an error in law, in finding at any rate that the matter before it was not urgent and so erred in failing to consider the applicable principle of time and consequence, the application of which entitled appellant to the indulgence of an expedited hearing.”
Komichi said the issues raised have a serious impact on harmonised elections and should not be allowed to affect their credibility and fairness.
“That the matter must be heard on an urgent basis is beyond any doubt and the following considerations may need to be taken into account: the failed application was brought on an urgent basis and notwithstanding the finding of the court on the issue of urgency, applicant points to the misdirection in that finding as well as the acceptance by his lordship that there is an urgent dispute which requires resolution.