Chamisa, Khupe row in new twist

HARARE - Expelled MDC deputy president Thokozani Khupe has commenced a multiplicity of actions in the High Court and Constitutional Court (Con-Court) in her desperate bid to dethrone Nelson Chamisa whose entry in the presidential race as the new MDC leader has ignited interest in the impending polls.

Court papers filed in the High Court by Khupe under case number HC1051/18 have set tongues wagging, with rivals alleging the 54-year-old filed a wrong party constitution, edited to suit her contention that she was the only deputy president of the MDC at the time the party’s founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, succumbed to colon cancer on February 14.

Following Tsvangirai’s death, the opposition picked Chamisa as its new leader and presidential candidate, but Khupe and her allies accused the 40-year-old of a power grab, and have also refused to recognise his leadership.

Chamisa was then forced to approach the High Court in Bulawayo seeking an interdict to stop Khupe and her allies from continuing to infringe on the MDC trademark, passing off as the party leader, and using the MDC name without the authority of the opposition party.

Judgment in the Bulawayo High Court was reserved to Tuesday next week while deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza conducted a hearing yesterday to determine the urgency of Khupe’s Con-Court case.

The case in the Bulawayo High Court is important in that Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba made it clear that she will not be entertaining confusion where more than one party uses the same name and symbols and that any such dispute must be resolved by the courts before nomination day.

The court battles were triggered by the decision by the MDC’s national council to dismiss Khupe, organising secretary, Abednigo Bhebhe, and national spokesperson Obert Gutu.

Up to this day, none of the three; Khupe, Bhebhe and Gutu have challenged their dismissal from the party either through its appeals procedures or through the courts of law.

While Khupe was in the Bulawayo High Court arguing her case to continue using the MDC name on Tuesday, she had on the same day filed a Con-Court application challenging her recall from Parliament.

In Con-Court case number 21/18, Khupe filed another version of the MDC constitution, which is the same as that filed by Chamisa and his camp in their High Court case in Bulawayo.

The Con-Court application by Khupe is seeking to reverse her recall from the MDC.

The party constitution filed by Khupe in the High Court under case number HC1051/18 was countered by the MDC, which filed a charter that had been endorsed by its national council at the City Sports Centre in Harare at its October 31-November 1, 2014 congress, and signed by the late MDC president, Tsvangirai.

This constitution was subsequently upheld by High Court judge Justice Lavender Makoni in a matter brought by MDC members Patson Murimoga and George Rice in July 2016 where the duo were challenging the appointment of deputy presidents Chamisa and Harvard-trained engineer Elias Mudzuri by Tsvangirai in July 2016.

Observers said Tsvangirai’s decision to elevate Chamisa and Mudzuri to the vice presidency was meant to neutralise the influence of Khupe, who was opposing the then cancer-stricken and ailing MDC leader’s opposition alliance legacy project and was also seen as move to put in place his preferred succession plan.

Justice Makoni found that: “What is clear from the constitution attached by the applicants (Murimoga and Rice) is that as it is, it is not validated by the national council and signed by the president of the fifth respondent (MDC). The applicants have therefore relied on the wrong document for the claim.”

It is the same constitution that Khupe filed in the High Court in Bulawayo, giving rise to speculation that she could have sponsored Murimoga and Rice in their High Court action against Tsvangirai.

It is understood the High Court application challenging the appointment of Chamisa and Mudzuri infuriated Tsvangirai, and significantly contributed to the bad blood between them.

Khupe’s lawyer Lovemore Madhuku acknowledged there was an error arising from the fact that Khupe used two sets of lawyers to argue her High Court and Con-Court case.

While Madhuku is arguing Khupe’s case in the Con-Court, the expelled MDC deputy president has retained Bulawayo law firm TJ Mabhikwa and Partners to argue her case before High Court judge, Justice Martin Makonese.

“Perhaps there is a mistake which can be corrected. It’s an error that can be corrected. We will then have to see kuti zvakamira sei (will attend to it in due course).
It’s also that there are different lawyers dealing with this. They filed from the Bulawayo office, and then we also filed from here. In Bulawayo, I went as an advocate instructed by the lawyers in Bulawayo,” Madhuku told the Daily News yesterday.

A legal expert said this was unprecedented.

In the legal profession, the legal expert who declined to be named said the confusion arising out of this was referred to as court farming whereby a litigant files a multiplicity of cases seeking a similar relief hoping to get favour in one of the courts.

“It’s like rolling a dice,” said the constitutional law expert.

Jameson Timba, who is coordinating the MDC challenge against Khupe, told the Daily News: “We are before the High Court in Bulawayo to seek an interdict against three expelled members who are infringing our trademarks and passing off as MDC-T leaders by exploiting our registered trademarks. We are not before the courts to determine who is the president of the MDC-T because that issue was laid to rest by the body, which is clothed with the capacity to select a leader for our party. The body, our national council, is the highest decision-making body in between congresses. We are a voluntary organisation and no court has jurisdiction to select or elect our leadership. We do that ourselves.”

Notwithstanding proceedings pending in the Bulawayo High Court, Khupe is proceeding to convene an extraordinary congress in Bulawayo today which, in terms of the MDC constitution can only be convened by its national council.

According to the MDC constitution, the national council gives the secretary-general power to begin the administrative work to convene congress.

Gutu, the spokesperson for the Khupe-led MDC, said the extraordinary congress today was being held in accordance with the provisions of Article 9.21.1 of the MDC.

“There is no court order to interdict the holding of the extraordinary congress and as such, the convening of the extraordinary congress is perfectly lawful, legitimate and constitutional. The relevant notices for the holding of the extraordinary congress were triggered by acting president ... Khupe in terms of the party constitution. The purported expulsion of myself, Khupe and Bhebhe are a nullity and as such, there is no need for us to challenge purported expulsion that is void ab initio (from the beginning).

“We don’t recognise a bogus and illegitimate ‘president’ who usurped power through an illegal coup de tat. In equal measure, we don’t recognise a bogus and illegitimate ‘national council’ that usurped the powers of the lawful and legitimate organs of the party,” Gutu told the Daily News yesterday.

He said the Con-Court application by Khupe is seeking an order to set aside her unlawful recall from Parliament.

“A bogus and illegitimate ‘president’ of the MDC as well as a bogus and illegitimate ‘national chairperson’ has got absolutely no legal authority to recall Khupe from Parliament,” Gutu said.

Comments (16)

That conman and his council are being exposed now, let me watch this movie. This is interesting, they thought they are clever.

Justice - 21 April 2018

khupenga kwaroooooo

g40 - 21 April 2018

People's interest comes first and never individual interests.

Ziziharinanyanga - 21 April 2018

Laws need to b followed as set out in the first place;thisz not denying the Mdc caucus has every right to change their laws at every hour as they may wish but only if they are in agreement-a thing they could have done before Khupe's argument

addmore gudo - 21 April 2018

Either she is being paid by Zanu PF, or she is incredibly stupid in assisting them as she is clearly doing.

Joe Cool - 22 April 2018

Khupe ! You must give up your claim to the throne or the Enemy will win! Are you completely stupid?!

MILES R ANDERSON - 22 April 2018

Stupid! You are giving the election to the bad Guys because you insist on behaving like 'Mama Grace'

MILES R ANDERSON - 22 April 2018

To tell the truth Khuphe has no support at all

matebele warrior - 23 April 2018

mama khupe m feeling sory for u if u drop your argument u will thank m

nacent - 23 April 2018

Khupe is the rightful president of the MDC, I support her 100%

Vashe - 23 April 2018

Khupe wants to spoiul the broth. She can go jump into Runde River.

Tongo - 24 April 2018

give them hell khupe

tau - 24 April 2018

Asi wakananzviswa nehure iroo!!!

Reply Kuna Tau - 24 April 2018

This woman is mad...it seems that she has been handsomely rewarded by someone to derail MDC. History will never forgive her.....

George Timuri - 25 April 2018

It is indeed very sad for Zimbabwean politics that at a time when all progressive minds must be working on removing the totality of wickedness that is called Zanu PF, instead the people who are supposed to be leading that process are busy fighting against each other. The question this scenario raises for me is: Are these people any different from the Zanu PF sharks who have stripped this country to bare bones in the last 38 years and still insist on continuing to plunder and ruin. Cry My Beloved Zimbabwe!!!!

Obbie Chii - 25 April 2018

Some are calling her ThokoZanu for good reasons. That she has sold out , its now obvious as the only winner from this chaos is Zanu PF. The rulling party is at its weakest at the moment with numerous factions still existant in the party. The Lacoste holding fort, G40 sympathisers somewhere within executing their bhora mudziva, yet again remnants of 'Gamatox' are still there. To add further confusion, the military is busy stepping on toes and demanding collateral damage for spearheading the coup. We hear that some retired soldiers are demanding winnable parliamentary constituencies to the detriment of incumbents. So it seems that ED is desperate to cause similar chaos within the revived MDC T Alliance, and he was fortunate to find his 'Judas' in a willing and pliable Khupe.

The Analyst - 25 April 2018

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