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'Chamisa is finished'

by Staff reporter
31 May 2020 at 23:56hrs | Views
THINGS appear to be going from bad to worse for Nelson Chamisa and his allies, with the High Court ruling yesterday that the MDC Alliance does not have an independent right of existence under the law — effectively muting the raging public debate that it is a duly constituted political party.

This comes after the Supreme Court recently upheld last year's decision by the High Court which decided that Chamisa's hotly-disputed ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC in 2018 had violated the party's constitution — and was, therefore, null and void.

It also comes after the MDC's interim leadership led by Thokozani Khupe successfully recalled Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana), Tabitha Khumalo (MDC proportional representative), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura) and Midlands senator Lillian Timveos from Parliament recently — as it flexed its muscles and demonstrated that it is fully in charge of the beleaguered party for now.

Yesterday, the High Court dismissed with costs an application where the MDC Alliance sought to stop the MDC's interim leadership from recalling more legislators from Parliament, while also ruling that the Alliance was not a party.

High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi ruled that the MDC Alliance was not a legal persona with the capacity to sue and be sued — and thus had no legal right to bring the application before the court.

"The first applicant (MDC-A) has failed to establish that it is a legal persona with the capacity to sue or be sued … Therefore, the finding of the invalidity in the application requires that the application is dismissed and not removed from the roll," he said.

Chitapi also said the MDC-A had failed to produce tangible evidence of a constitution or other legal instruments showing that it was a legal persona.

He said further that while the organisation was a political party as defined in the Electoral Act — which simply identifies a political party as a political organisation — the MDC-A did not have a legal instrument conferring it juristic status.

"You need to be a juristic person before you argue a case in a subject matter," Chitapi said.

He also said that from the evidence that was brought before the court, this had shown that the MDC-A was a grouping of political parties that formed a pact to participate in the 2018 elections as a single entity.

However, he added, the pact had a timeframe and was crafted to expire after five years from the date of people being elected into office, and did not have a constitution guiding its existence.

Chitapi also said the MDC-A's lawyers had failed to rebut submissions made by the MDC-T regarding the fact that the MDC-A was not a legal persona.

Among the other points that the MDC had raised included the fact that Hwende had no authority to represent the party or its MPs, and that there was material non-disclosure of some information… — a bid to mislead the court.

Soon after the handing down of the judgment, the MDC-A said it was going to reflect on the way forward, while making the point that a political party was not determined by courts.

"We are going to continue to focus on fighting for Zimbabweans, championing the issues that Zimbabwe faces.
"The party is not going to focus on being reduced to a sterile debate by people's individual political ambitions, which these court cases, recalls and political stratagems are about.

"We are going to continue to hold the government to account and to fight to improve the lives of Zimbabweans. This country is in crisis right now," new MDC-A spokesperson Fadzai Mahere said.

But professor of World Politics at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, Stephen Chan, said the court outcome would have damaging effects on the country's opposition party and leave Zanu-PF with no formidable challengers.

"Chamisa needs to now form the Alliance as a party. It was a mistake on his part to delay attempting this for so long. Having said that, the external reaction to his leadership or lack of it, has been negative.

"This doesn't mean that Western powers will side with his rivals. No one is impressing the outside world right now.

"So, the question is not just whether Chamisa is finished. The question is whether the MDC has a meaningful role right now that is understood by both Zimbabweans … and the outside world that was once sympathetic to the opposition — for the opposition is … opposing itself. This is a disaster," Chan said.

Respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said while the ruling had detrimental legal implications for Chamisa, its political effect was minimal.

"The ruling is devastating for the MDC only as far as its legal standing is concerned. I suspect they will appeal to the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, now that they are a standalone entity.
"While the legal standing of the MDC-T has been greatly enhanced by the ruling, it does not translate to its political standing," he said.

"The key thing now may be for the MDC-Alliance to go through the process of properly constituting itself as a proper political party, which can sue or be sued in its own name.

"This they can do by holding another congress, to differentiate itself from the MDC-T," he added.
Namibia-based academic, Admire Mare, concurred with Masunungure, saying Chamisa could form a new party free of blemishes.

"I think he will form another party and move on. Some MPs desperate to save their perks and salaries will desert him, but the real politics will happen via elections," he said.
Analyst Rashweat Mukundu also said the High Court judgment would not in itself give more support to Khupe.

"The judgment does not change any material facts on the political reality on the ground, which is that there is now a separation between Khupe, those MPs and Nelson Chamisa.

"The question is not whether the separation will happen, but when and in what manner.
"If MPs (loyal to Chamisa) are recalled, the constitution guarantees another chance for MDC Alliance to contest as MDC Alliance," Mukundu said.

This comes as Khupe and her allies have been involved in a hammer and tongs tussle with Chamisa's faction ever since the death of the MDC's much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, from colon cancer in February 2018.

The fighting has intensified following the Supreme Court's ruling in March this year, which voided Chamisa's disputed leadership of the party.

The ruling upheld last year's decision by the High Court which had said Chamisa's ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC had violated the main opposition party's constitution.

The net effect of the unanimous judgment that was handed down by a trio of Supreme Court judges — Paddington Garwe, Bharat Patel and Antoinette Guvava — was that Chamisa's MDC's presidency was unconstitutional, and therefore null and void.

In addition to installing Khupe as interim party president, the court also ordered her to convene an extraordinary MDC congress to elect a new leadership within three months — which key gathering is tentatively set for July 31.
The court also re-instated Douglas Mwonzora and Morgen Komichi to the positions of secretary-general and chairperson respectively.

Speaking to the Daily News's sister publication, the Daily News on Sunday last weekend, the MDC's former chairperson Lovemore Moyo described the mindless bloodletting in the party as a useless "power struggle".
He said pointedly that the feud had "absolutely nothing to do with serving the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe".

"The fight between the two formations is purely a power struggle. It's about fighting for the control of the soul of the MDC and president Morgan Tsvangirai's political legacy.

"Unfortunately, there is no winner in the on-going political fight as the two parties will significantly lose the opposition vote, supporters and credibility.

"Actually, Zanu-PF will emerge the biggest winner as it stands from a divided and unco-ordinated opposition come the 2023 general elections," Moyo said.

"My advice is very simple. Put the interests of the people of Zimbabwe first. Your personal egos and interests will always be accommodated if you deliver electoral victory in plebiscites.
"What you are doing to yourselves, tearing each other apart, especially on social media, makes Zanu-PF smile. Focus on the ball," he added.

Source - dailynews