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MDC mulls reprieve on election deadline

by Staff reporter
17 May 2020 at 12:14hrs | Views
Opposition party MDC has indicated that it will approach the High Court seeking an extension of the date to hold its elective congress as the country battles to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that MDC should recognise the structure established by the party's congress in 2014 which made Thokozani Khupe the party's acting president pending the holding of an extraordinary congress within three months.

The judgment was delivered by the bench of judges Paddington Garwe, Bharat Patel and Antoinette Guvava at a time the country is under a lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. To date the country has confirmed 37 cases of the virus, four deaths and nine recoveries.

The ruling also recognises Douglas Mwonzora as the Secretary general and Morgan Komichi as the national chairman.

Mwonzora told Business Times that the national council executive was looking at the possibility of moving away from three months' time frame provided by the Supreme Court ruling to hold an elective congress to choose new team of leadership and make a court application seeking an extension.

"July 31, 2020 is a tentative date set for the elective congress dependent on the health situation in the country. The national council resolved that
the period within the congress must be held was restricted by the lockdown. If necessary it may be necessary to seek a court extension and if it is not granted then July 31 will be the last date for elections," Mwonzora said.

"But, we are going to engage our lawyers to approach the court for the extension and there is high possibility of that happening as we are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic which has restricted us to conduct our political work and the physical gathering of our party members in their various provinces."

He said the party was working on the logistics of inviting 4 500 delegates to the congress and was now in the process of identifying the venue for the congress big enough to accommodate the delegates considering health and safety measures of social distancing.

"We have settled for Harare province to host the congress and we find that it is much cheaper and convenient to accommodate the delegates in the capital city," Mwonzora said.

He said MDC was not losing sleep over utterances by MDC Alliance members that legislators would resign from Parliament in support of its leader Nelson Chamisa.

Some of the senior MDC members who are supporting the holding of the extraordinary congress are Khupe, Mwonzora, Morgan Komichi and Elias Mudzuri.

Mwonzora said the majority of the MPs and councillors had heeded their call not to resign but finish their terms which end in 2023.

"We know that many MPs do not want to resign from Parliament and Chamisa should not force them to sign letters of resignation from parliament as we are aware that they are being summoned to the party's office to resign from Parliament," Mwonzora said, adding that he was not going to resign alongside Mudzuri and Komichi.

"Our message to the MPs is that it is up to any individual MP to make his own decision to remain in Parliament or join Chamisa as we are not vindictive leaders; we want unity with the MPs and they must not resign from Parliament."

On Monday 85 legislators met at the party's headquarters where they resolved to throw their weight behind Chamisa.

The MDC Alliance has been holding meetings in their constituencies to consult with their party members on the course of action to take.

Charlton Hwende the MDC Alliance secretary general who was expelled from Parliament last week said his party was in the process of consulting their members on the way forward.

The party's organising secretary Amos Chibaya the MDC Alliance organising secretary said the party leadership had made a resolution to support Chamisa and were going to be resigning en masse but the leadership was holding consultative meeting with the party in their structures on the way forward.

Last week MDC recalled four legislators from Parliament with by-election expected in their constituencies. The recalled legislators are Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura), Charlton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Thabitha Khumalo (Proportional Representation) and Senator Lillian Timveous (Midlands).

In the 2018 elections, Zanu PF won 145 out of the contested 210 seats in the National Assembly, MDC Alliance (63 seats) while the remaining seats where won by National Patriotic Front's Masango Matambanadzo (Kwekwe) and independent candidate Temba Mliswa who won the Norton Constituency.

The remaining 60 seats that were appropriated for the Women's Quota and Senate saw 35 allocated to Zanu PF, 24 to MDC Alliance and one for MDC T.

Twenty of the remaining seats were reserved for chiefs 18 and 2 for people living with disabilities to complete the cumulative 350 seats in Parliament.

Source - businesstimes