PROBLEMS continue to rock the opposition MDC-T ship after one of its top officials approached Parliament to announce he had fired party president Thokozani Khupe, claiming that the Supreme Court had no power to interfere with voluntary political organisations or decide the leaders thereof.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Khupe was the acting leader of the opposition party and tasked her with organising an extra-ordinary congress within three months.
The Supreme Court also ruled that all appointments made by the late MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai, including the elevation of Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as vice-presidents of the party in 2016 were unconstitutional.
Although admitting the ruling could be moot, the court ordered Khupe to organise an extra-ordinary congress within three months to settle the leadership wrangle.
Chamisa’s MDC Alliance has said the ruling has no effect on them, but two senators, Douglas Mwonzora and Morgen Komichi who lost at the MDC Alliance congress last year, claimed they had reverted to the positions they held in the united MDC under the leadership of Tsvangirai.
But in a twist of events, Khupe’s secretary-general Nixon Nyikadzino yesterday wrote to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda announcing that he was now the acting president of the MDC-T and reserves the right to recall MPs seconded by the party.
“The MDC-T we belong to is not the MDC,” Nyikadzino said.
“The MDC-T Members of Parliament belong to the MDC-T and can never be legally donated to another political party under any circumstances. I as secretary-general, I will, when necessary, communicate with you regarding the matter concerning our two Members of Parliament.”
The MDC-T has two MPs in Parliament as opposed to 87 seats for the MDC Alliance, but after the Supreme Court ruling, Mwonzora and Komichi had threatened to recall all Chamisa’s MDC Alliance MPs.
In a ground shifting moment for Khupe, Nyikadzino said she could not make history by becoming leader of two political parties at the same time, saying she was either with MDC-T or with the “new MDC which has been formed by the Supreme Court”.
“It is the MDC of 2014 which has been formed by the Supreme Court which she leads. We do not know where the court got the power to dissolve the MDC-T which was formed in 2018 and contested in the elections as such.
He added: “If they get it from God Almighty, then let them tell us. We were not before the Supreme Court, we are happy with the new party we formed and will maintain its brand.”
Nyikadzino also claimed Khupe had been booted out of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), saying she was there as leader of MDC-T and, therefore, “her walking out to join a party that did not contest the 2018 general elections meant she was out of Polad”.
“There will obviously be a reconfiguration of who represents us in Polad, it is the MDC-T that contested in the 2018 presidential election with Khupe as its candidate. It is that party that is at Polad and not the MDC of 2014 which was not anywhere near the ballot paper,” he said.
In his letter, also delivered to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Nyikadzino said they were registered and recognised as a distinct political party from MDC Alliance and, therefore, should not be confused as one.
“We contested against the MDC Alliance. Its candidate Douglas Mwonzora who now purports to be secretary-general of the MDC-T, contested against us.
“To suggest or in any way interpret the Supreme Court judgment so as to make Khupe the president of our party (MDC-T) and also acting president of the MDC of Morgan Tsvangirai is making a mockery of our parliamentary democracy and Constitution,” he wrote.
But Mwonzora said Nyikadzino was being used by some people for their own ends and, therefore, his letter was of no consequence.
“I know the state and situation he is in; he is being used by some people to push a certain agenda and I feel for him,” Mwonzora said.
“The Supreme Court is very clear Khupe was his president and her position had been addressed by the court ruling, so all I can say is, I wish him quick recovery,” said Mwonzora, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of Khupe.
He also claimed more than 3 000 delegates had pledged to participate at the party’s congress slated for end of June if President Emmerson Mnangagwa lifts the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We are very excited that we have finally managed to get the 3 000 members to attend the congress as per provisions of the constitution. We are fulfilling an order of the Supreme Court that the party must hold a congress within the stipulated timeframe,” Mwonzora said.
“We have been in contact with the 3 000 members through various means and ways. They have been within the party structures and have taken part in party activities since 2014. There are registers to prove that these are genuine members of the party who have the right to attend the congress and make a decision on the affairs of their party,” he added.
He claimed MDC Alliance MPs had pledged to be loyal to the MDC-T.