UNLESS brawling MDC leaders end their futile wars soon, Nelson Chamisa will not be able to participate in the party’s leadership contests when the court-directed extra-ordinary congress gets underway at the end of the year.
The party’s interim leadership led by Thokozani Khupe, pictured, emphasised at a media briefing in Harare yesterday that all MDC Alliance leaders, as well as expelled members were not eligible to take part in the December elective assembly.
This comes after Khupe expelled Chamisa in June this year – which effectively leaves him with no other choice but to form his own party if he still harbours political ambitions.
Barring any other dramatic developments over the coming weeks, it also means that the bid by MDC youths to unite the party has fallen flat on its face.
At the same time, the Supreme Court yesterday granted Khupe time to hold the party’s delayed extra-ordinary congress by year-end – in another development that also has far-reaching implications on the future of the country’s main opposition.
Supreme Court judges Susan Mavangira, Chinembiri Bhunu and Alfias Chitakunye delivered yesterday’s ruling, in which they set new timelines for the congress, which was delayed at the height of Covid-19 in July.
“We were seeking an extension of the timeline that we were given. What it means is that the congress has to be convened by Khupe on or before November 30, failure of which national chairperson Morgen Komichi would have to ensure that it is convened not later than December 30,” MDC lawyer Lovemore Madhuku told the media.
“Our clients are still within the framework that they were given on March 31. We will be seeking the guidance of the High Court on anything to do with logistics because we would want certain numbers of people to attend the meetings.
“We will discuss with the Health and Home Affairs ministries on any issues for our delegates to attend to such, that if they are not in agreement, the High Court will guide the modalities for that,” Madhuku added.
Khupe had sought an extension within which the MDC was supposed to have convened the extra-ordinary congress after the March Supreme Court judgment which nullified Chamisa’s ascendancy to the party’s leadership.
“At the time of the handing down of the judgment on March 31, the country was on the second day of a 21-day lockdown to contain the effects of Covid-19, but the court, in giving us between three and four months to convene an extra-ordinary congress, must have contemplated a gradual return to normalcy after the 21-day lockdown,” Khupe said in her affidavit.
“Regrettably, subsequent to the handing down of the judgment, the health situation arising from the Covid-19 pandemic acutely deteriorated to such an extent that as at the date of this application, public gatherings of more than 50 people are absolutely banned.
“The holding of an extra-ordinary congress of the first applicant entails a public gathering of more than 4 000 people. It has been unlawful to hold such a gathering since March 31 and it remains unlawful to date,” Khupe said further in her appeal for the postponement of the congress.
“I would like to take the court into the confidence of the first applicant (MDC). If the timelines are not varied, some sections of our membership may push the view that the leadership and I have not been keen to implement the judgment of this court,” she added.
Yesterday’s ruling, however, could worsen Chamisa’s increasingly tenuous association with the MDC – following his dismissal from the party in June.
In a letter to Chamisa dated June 1, Khupe summarily dismissed the charismatic politician from the MDC for having allegedly violated the party’s constitutional provisions.
His dismissal followed the March Supreme Court ruling which annulled Chamisa’s hotly-disputed ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC.
That ruling meant that Chamisa had, on paper, reverted to being the secretary for policy and research in the party – the position he held before the late party’s founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, unilaterally elevated him and Elias Mudzuri to the MDC presidium.
“The latest incident is when on 21 May, 2020 you issued a communication to the effect that you had, in your capacity as the president of the MDC Alliance party, made certain appointments and redeployments to the party’s national standing committee.
“You could only have made these appointments as president of the party other than the party referred to in the Supreme Court judgment.
“In terms of clause 5.10 (a) of the constitution of the MDC … by your joining or forming another party, you have automatically terminated your membership of the MDC … led by Tsvangirai…
“You are, therefore, ordered to vacate the party’s headquarters at 44 Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare with immediate effect,” Khupe wrote to Chamisa then, informing him of his dismissal.
Chamisa and Khupe have been brawling for the control of the party since Tsvangirai’s death on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
The battle has in the past three months worsened with each passing day, with Khupe recalling a total 31 party legislators to date and several councillors who had aligned themselves with Chamisa.
Only this week, Khupe recalled 10 more MPs from Parliament, including Chamisa’s deputy Lynette Karenyi Kore – who had earned her seat for Manicaland via the proportional representation route.
Others include Dorcas Sibanda (Bulawayo proportional representative), Caston Matewu (Marondera Central)), Concilia Chinanzvavana (Mashonaland West proportional representative), Susan Matsunga (Mufakose), Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North), Unganai Tarusenga (St Mary’s), Eric Murai (Highfield East), Wellington Chikombo (Glen Norah) and Etheridge Kureva (Epworth).
Prior to this week’s sackings, the Khupe group had also recalled 21 other legislators – including MDC Alliance secretary-general Chalton Hwende.
The latest recalls cast further doubts on the push by MDC youths to end the party’s mindless brawling.
This comes after party youths seized MRT House earlier this week in a desperate bid to force dialogue between Khupe and Chamisa.
The two have been involved in a vicious tussle for the control of the country’s largest opposition party ever since the late and revered Tsvangirai succumbed to cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
The Daily News has reported on the MDC’s senseless brawls consistently, fairly and accurately over the past two years – calling out the futility of the anarchy, albeit to no avail.
At the weekend, political analysts warned that the party’s futile infighting was driving the MDC to its death bed.
They also repeated their other warnings that the divided opposition would find it exceedingly difficult to compete with Zanu-PF in the fast-approaching 2023 national elections.