BULAWAYO – MDC Alliance deputy president Welshman Ncube says they anticipated the recalling of four of the party’s lawmakers from parliament on Tuesday, which he says is a state-orchestrated programme to destabilise and weaken the party.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda announced MDC Alliance MPs Charlton Hwende, Thabitha Khumalo, Prosper Mutseyami and Senator Lilian Timveous were recalled through a letter by Douglas Mwonzora, who says he has reprised his role as secretary general of the party following a court ruling in late March.
The Supreme Court ruled that Nelson Chamisa had taken leadership of the MDC-T party in February 2018, before forming the MDC Alliance, in a “fundamentally flawed process.”
The court ordered that Thokozani Khupe, who participated in elections in July 2018 as leader of the MDC-T, should take over on an interim basis pending a congress within three months to elect a new leader.
Khupe, backed by Mwonzora and Morgen Komichi, has found resistance from Chamisa and his MDC Alliance lieutenants who say the court ruling relates to the MDC-T party which Khupe already leads, and not the MDC Alliance.
“It was important that they throw the dice first,” Ncube said, reacting to the move to recall the four lawmakers who are the MDC Alliance’s main leaders in Parliament.
“Everything is a choreographed from the courts to the Speaker of Parliament. We had no expectation of anything better. We said what the plan was before the court delivered its judgement. We said they will continue to play this game. They have their game plan, watch the space and see if we will play their game.”
Ncube said they did not accept the withdrawal of the whip from the MPs. Their obvious options include going back to court to challenge their recall, accepting Khupe’s leadership and participating in a congress or going for by-elections.
The law professor said there was “very little appetite” for any of those options currently in the MDC Alliance.
“We won’t take it lying down. In the next few days, you will know what we will do and it will be a strong response. The organs of the party will make the decisions. People have seen what has happened.”
Ncube says Khupe’s camp has relied on dubious judicial decisions and a state apparatus only too keen to aid the takeover of the MDC Alliance.
He told ZimLive: “What’s happening is not a legal matter but a political issue, and it must be understood as such. People must disabuse themselves of the notion that this is legal, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.
“The law is clear, and has always been clear that you are recalled by the party under which you were elected. The candidates were fielded by MDC-Alliance which was in competition with MDC-T. So no, this has nothing to do with the law.
“Which judgement gave anyone authority to recall MDC Alliance MPs? Which party is controlled by a single individual? Parties are controlled institutionally. Where in the world have three people (Khupe, Mwonzora, Komichi) controlled a party?
“So, it’s not a legal issue. Since the judgement, has the national council or the standing committee met? Thabitha Khumalo was deputy spokesperson under the structure that the other side wants to say is the court recognised leadership. I can tell you that Khumalo has not been invited to any meeting where a decision to recall our MPs was taken.”
Khupe and her allies have written to the police seeking assistance to occupy the MDC Alliance’s HQ in central Harare. Mwonzora says in a letter to the police that they need to convene meetings of the party’s structures to prepare for the court-ordered congress, but fear they will meet resistance from Chamisa loyalists.
Ncube says Khupe has no quorum in any party structure, and the recall of the MPs was designed to instil fear in the party’s remaining 60 MPs, Senators and councillors.
“What you have is a political programme of Zanu PF to basically take control of the MDC Alliance. Khupe, Mwonzora and Komichi have carefully selected our senior people in parliament. They have basically thrown the dice to say the rest of you who are junior to these people, we can get rid of you too if you don’t associate with our plans,” said Ncube.