The expulsion of former MDC-T deputy president Dr Thokozani Khupe from the august House was done within the dictates of the law and her constitutional challenge cannot pass the test of any legal validity, Parliament has said.
Dr Khupe is contesting her expulsion arguing that Parliament turned a blind eye to its constitutional obligation to protect her tenure as a Member of Parliament when it endorsed her expulsion.
Responding to Dr Khupe’s constitutional application filed recently at the Constitutional Court, Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, last week said no basis had been laid out for the sustenance of the charge that Parliament breached the Constitution.
“I submit that on the facts alleged, it is impossible for that contention to be properly made and sustained particularly when the applicable legal principles are taken into account,” said Adv Mudenda arguing he was being unnecessarily drawn into the party’s fight.
“In the premises, I submit that the declaratur sought against first (Dr Khupe) and second (MDC-T) respondents have no legal grounding and may be dismissed with costs.”
Adv Mudenda said the Parliament decision was informed by the law and various decisions already made by the superior courts on cases similar to the present dispute.
“I and my office, have been guided by the various views expressed by this court in these kinds of matters as well as its pronouncements,” he said.
“We have in addition been guided by the law as we have always understood it. The allegations made by the applicant against me do not have any legal validity.”
Dr Khupe, who was the opposition party’s Proportional Representation Member of Parliament for Bulawayo Metropolitan, and Mr Nelson Chamisa are locked in a fierce power struggle over control of the party’s name, logo and symbols.
MDC-T chairman Mr Morgan Komichi who is listed as the second respondent in the suit has also responded to Dr Khupe’s challenge in support of Parliament. The constitutional challenge will be heard on May 30. Mr Komichi argued that the Speaker acted reasonably in the case.
Dr Khupe, he said, was expelled and she did nothing to challenge the expulsion in a court of law.
“It is accordingly clear the Speaker breached no constitutional obligations of his,” he said.
Mr Komichi also pointed out that Adv Mudenda followed a similar process that was done in cases of Zanu-PF members and those of MDC-T that were previously recalled by their respective parties.
In addition, Mr Komichi said Dr Khupe wrote a letter to the Speaker seeking to activate the same process which the party had activated against her.
“Ironically, and in act of self-contradictory, this is the same process which she says ought not to have done,” he said.
“By so doing she accepts that here was nothing wrong in seeking to have the Speaker act in the manner he did.”
Mr Komichi also seeks to bring to the attention of the court that when the party’s leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai appointed two additional deputies Mr Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri in July 2016, Dr Khupe never challenged that in the party and even in a court of law.
Dr Khupe, who is being represented by Professor Lovemore Madhuku, wants an order declaring that Parliament failed to fulfil its constitutional obligation to protect the tenure of the seat of a Member of Parliament as required by Sections 119(1) and 129 of the Constitution.
She also wants the court to reinstate her as Member of Parliament, including declaring Mr Komichi’s letter to Parliament, which was written in terms of Section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution, null and void.
Until her expulsion, Dr Khupe was the leader of the opposition party in the august House by virtue of her being the party’s deputy president. Mr Chamisa has had a nasty fallout with Dr Khupe over the leadership of the opposition party.
Advocates Tawanda Zhuwarara and Sylvester Hashiti are acting for the Chamisa MDC-T formation, while Adv Thabani Mpofu is representing the Speaker of Parliament.