The Harare High Court has thrown out an appeal by a man claiming to be secretary general of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) challenging a court order which declared that the expulsion of six MDC Alliance MPs from the National Assembly was null and void.
Benjamin Rukanda wrote to the Speaker of Parliament in March claiming that the Lucia Matibenga’s PDP was recalling its six MPs in the MDC Alliance including the former finance minister Tendai Biti. Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda swiftly expelled the MPs from parliament before a High Court judge found that Rukanda had no legitimate claim to be secretary general of the PDP before reversing the expulsions.
Lucia Matibenga’s PDP contested 2018 elections under Joice Mujuru’s Rainbow Coalition and failed to win even a single council seat. Biti joined the people’s favourite party, MDC Alliance.
Rukanda last week appealed against the order by Justice Amy Tsaga.
On Wednesday, Justice Tawanda Chitapi dismissed Rukanda’s appeal out of hand for failing to comply with the rules.
One of the affected MPs Kucaca Ivumile Phulu, a Bulawayo-based lawyer, said: “Rukanda had filed an application to rescind the order that we obtained. He also filed an application to stay the execution of our order pending the outcome of the rescission application.
“Justice Chitapi did not grant the urgent application as it was materially defective.”
Last week, Zengeza West MP Jacob Sikhala confronted Mudenda in the National Assembly, accusing him of failing to implement the court order by failing to rescind the expulsion of the MPs.
Mudenda responded: “I don’t announce letters of recall, I read them. Withdraw your statement. You see as a lawyer Honourable Sikhala, you’re relying on hearsay from a third party in which you’re not involved. That is not admissible and I cannot entertain hearsay messages.
“What I can entertain is an approach by the affected party or parties to the issue, then I will respond to them accordingly.”
Jacob Mafume, a member of the six MPs’ legal team, said Mudenda was a respondent in the applications and had, during the court processes, “taken the position that he will abide by the court decisions.”
“The decisions are coming in our favour and then he acts confused,” Mafume told ZimLive.
Settlement Chikwinya, another of the expelled MPs, added: “If the Speaker of Parliament is to be fair and just, the recently recalled six MPs must be admitted back to parliament.
“It is common knowledge that Mudenda is a Zanu PF Politburo member and obviously will await instructions from party HQ before obliging with the court order.”
Biti, the MP for Harare East; William Madzimure of Kambuzuma; Chikwinya of Mbizo; Phulu of Nkulumane; Sichelesile Mahlangu of Pumula and Regai Tsunga of Mutasa South were expelled last month based on a controversial Constitutional Court ruling that the MDC Alliance was not a single party but made up of a coalition of parties, and that each party in the coalition – which included the PDP – could recall MPs elected on the Alliance ticket.
The MDC Alliance, which morphed into a single party after the July 2018 elections, says the recalls are part of a Zanu PF strategy – with the help of a captured judiciary – to weaken the party.