Court halts MDC congress challenge


THE High Court yesterday put on ice an application filed by disgruntled opposition MDC members to stop next month’s elective congress, which is likely to see Nelson Chamisa succeeding the late Morgan Tsvangirai as the party’s substantive leader.

MDC members, fronted by Elias Mashavire, were seeking an order to bar the party’s May 24 congress and, instead, have an extraordinary congress to elect Tsvangirai’s successor, but they were forced to withdraw their urgent High Court application before Justice Esther Muremba.

Chamisa, who is on the verge of clinching the mandate to lead the main opposition after securing nominations of almost all the party’s provinces, has dismissed the applications as “machinations of darkness”.

The Gokwe-based Mashavire, represented by lawyer Ashel Mutungura, launched a renewed bid to stop the congress and force the party to first deal with an extra-ordinary congress, which they say is provided for in the party’s constitution following the death of Tsvangirai last year.

In an interview yesterday after the court hearing, Mutungura said the matter was heard before Justice Muremba, who urged them to wait for the judgment by Justice Edith Mushore, who heard the matter last month.

“We have been waiting for judgment for more than one month now before Justice Edith Mushore and today, the judge said she was not going to give us two judgments because the other judgment could be out any moment,” he said.

“She said why don’t you write to the judge to get that judgment?” Mutungura said.

Justice Muremba’s decision was based on the basis that it would not be prudent to proceed because her judgment might also take time yet the one pending might be released any time soon.

Mashavire argued that Chamisa, as the party’s interim leader, had no power to call for an ordinary congress before the MDC holds an extra-ordinary congress to confirm him as the leader.

The application cited Chamisa as the first respondent, while vice-presidents Morgen Komichi and Elias Mudzuri, secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and national organising secretary Amos Chibaya were also cited.

Chamisa said the party was forging ahead with congress arrangements and would not be swayed by “enemies of democracy who are only wasting the courts’ time”.

“We have budgeted for machinations by merchants of darkens, by apostles of retrogression and retrogressive acerbic negative politics,” he said.

“We have in-built resilience to deal with such chaos, such false kites that are thrown in order to shift us from the focus.

“We are focusing on the ball, our task is to play the ball and not the man, and that’s the tragedy of certain politicians; they mark the man, instead of marking the ball and that somebody wants to go to court is their right, but we have a resolution in the party, that if you have grievances, if you are a party member, peruse and exhaust domestic remedies because we have them in abundance.”

He insisted that internal grievance handling mechanisms were sufficient and described the case as cheap politicking and unfortunate sideshows.

“We will deal with that because we are a party that operates on the rule of law and we respect individual rights. You can see that it’s malicious and it’s meant to stroke the egos of those who may feel that they are suffering injuries out of democracy because democracy has a tendency of inflicting blows, particularly if you are a non-democrat,” Chamisa added.

Chamisa was expected to be challenged by Mwonzora and Mudzuri, but so far, none of them have received nomination for the presidency.

Mwonzora, who has since received one nomination for secretary-general, on Sunday last week surprised party supporters after declaring that he was putting his weight behind Chamisa through an agreement that would see him retain the secretary-general post.

Many MDC die-hard supporters and loyal members are alleging being sidelined in favour of newcomers, most of whom caused serious damage to the party when they acrimoniously left following splits.