MDC-T president Dr Thokozani Khupe says last week’s High Court ruling, which nullified the ascendency of her bitter rival, Mr Nelson Chamisa to the helm of the party, rightfully placed her back in charge of the opposition party.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Dr Khupe, who also indicated that she would not shirk “the huge responsibility” of leading the party, says the youthful politician has no option but to engage her, or risk another bruising legal fight.
All parties, she added, should accept the court ruling.
“On the 8th of May, Justice Judith Mushore handed down a judgement with regards to our party and placed its leadership back to the 14 February 2018 status.
“I accept and appreciate the judgment and I stand guided by the court order. The judgment has placed me back as the leader of MDC-T.
“I therefore accept the huge responsibility that it places on me,” she said.
However, Mr Chamisa has refused to accept the ruling, with some members of his party contemptuously considering it to be partisan. Yesterday, Dr Khupe indicated that ever since the ruling, she has been subjected to gratuitous abuse on social media, including insulting text messages from South African phone numbers.
She has reportedly engaged the South African embassy to assist her in tracking the numbers.
The court ruling, she believes, compels the two feuding parties to map a way forward from the current sticky situation.
“The judgment has raised legal issues to which I have a responsibility to. It also raises salient political issues to which I have a responsibility, to which my colleagues have a responsibility to.
“In this regard, we have no choice but to find a way of talking around how to move from February 2018 as the court has nullified everything that happened after February 2018.
“There is therefore an urgent need for dialogue between all parties maintained in this court order, including the applicant, on how we can implement it,” she said.
MDC-T has since instructed its legal counsel to engage the MDC’s lawyers. Dr Khupe added: “This offer is being made without prejudice, but let it be on record that in the event that other parties are not forthcoming, we are still open to other legal remedies.”
Harare lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri said Justice Mushore’s ruling makes legal and common sense.
“The Judge looked at the provisions of the constitution of the private voluntary organisation, which is the MDC,” said Adv Uriri.
“The constitution is a contract between members of the party who are bound by that constitution, which they chose to abide by. So the Judge analysed the provisions of that constitution and looked at what ought to have been done and what was actually done and found that what was done did not accord with the constitution.
“That judgment is pregnant with legal sense and common sense,” he said.
The learned Judge, he added, followed the proper positive principles of the law. Advocate Thembi Magwaliba, another seasoned lawyer, said the Mr Chamisa-led MDC is playing political gamesmanship by taking Justice Mushore’s finding as political.
“The ruling is purely a legal analysis of the facts presented to the court, there is no hint whatsoever of any political hand in the judgment,” said Adv Magwaliba.
“I think as they say, it is quite easy to see a goat behind every bush. The MDC people are playing politics.
“They know who their enemies are and they suspect their enemies are in machinations against them, but that is not necessarily true or justified if one goes through that judgement.”
Justice Mushore ruled that the decision by the late former MDC-T president, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, to handpick two additional vice-presidents was illegal and that the party should hold an extraordinary congress within a month.
The 2014 structures will be used at that congress.
MDC’s Gokwe district organising secretary Mr Elias Mashavire had approached the court challenging Mr Tsvangirai’s 2016 decision to appoint Mr Chamisa and Engineer Elias Mudzuri as his deputies, together with Dr Thokozani Khupe, who had been elected into office at the 2014 congress.