MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s bid to bar the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T from further recalling his legislators from Parliament hit a brickwall yesterday after High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled that the youthful opposition leader was improperly before the courts as his party was not a juristic person capable of suing or being sued.
The ruling paves way for Khupe to recall Chamisa’s remaining legislators, and even councillors.
Chamisa had approached the court seeking to bar MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora from recalling his MPs after the latter recently recalled four MDC Alliance legislators for ceasing to represent the interests of the original party, MDC-T.
The affected legislators are Chalton Hwende, Prosper Mutseyami, Thabitha Khumalo and Lillian Timveous.
In recalling them, Khupe argued that the MDC Alliance was not a party, but an umbrella body for a group of opposition political parties.
In his judgment, Justice Chitapi said that while a political party did not need a constitution to exist, there was need for it to prove that it was a legal person who enjoyed rights separate from its members.
“The fact that a group of people came together under a common name to pursue a common agenda of attaining political power, does not make them a legal person capable of suing or being sued,” Justice Chitapi said.
He noted that the MDC Alliance was formed as a non-compete electoral pact through a written agreement and that agreement clearly stated that the duration of the pact would be five years and also provided that any variation of the agreement would be made in writing.
“There is no rebuttal acceptable before me to set out that the MDC Alliance is a juristic person… The MDC Alliance agreement had a lifespan of five years, there is no variation of the agreement. The question then comes: Does the MDC Alliance have any instrument of incorporation that allows it to sue or be sued? While they can be properly be called a political party, does it make it a juristic person?” asked the judge.
The judge noted an earlier judgment fellow High Court judge Munangati Manongwa who last week ruled that the MDC Alliance was a political party and a legal person who could sue or be sued. But Justice Chitapi said his fellow judge’s ruling would not bind him in anyway.
Khupe’s lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said the ruling allowed his client to go ahead and recall more MDC Alliance MPs and councillors because the interdict which Chamisa’s party sought had been quashed.
Mwonzora said the ruling had vindicated his and Supreme Court position that Chamisa was not the legitimate party leader.
“It is not our intention to victimise anyone, it’s not our intention to recall people just like. Those people who will be recalled are those people who would have committed offences and the offences are there, well-documented in our constitution. We will be measured in our response. We will not be retributive. We are not a vindictive leadership, we do not exist to victimise MPs. We exist to deliver the people of Zimbabwe from poverty and misery,” Mwonzora said.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzai Mahere said they would not lose sleep over loss of court battles.
“The outcome of the court application is, it (the court interdict) was dismissed. We are going to continue focusing on fighting for Zimbabweans and championing the issues that Zimbabweans face. The party is not going to be reduced into focusing on a sterile debate about people’s individual political ambitions, which is what this court case is about,” she said.
The long-standing battles in the MDC formations have taken several twists and turns as Khupe and Chamisa fight over control of the country’s main opposition movement.