MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe (pictured) has intensified efforts to elbow out MDC president Nelson Chamisa after urging the Supreme Court to recognise the party structures that existed in 2014 when the opposition party was led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
Khupe made the remarks through her lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku while responding to an appeal by Chamisa who is challenging the decision by the High Court which stripped him of the MDC-T’s presidency.
In her submission, Khupe said High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore did not misdirect herself when she ruled that the MDC constitution does not provide for the appointment of more than one deputy president as was done by Tsvangirai when he appointed Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri prior to his death.
“The High Court was correct to find that the MDC Constitution does not provide for the appointment of more than one deputy president … there was no provision for more than one deputy president hence in 2014 there was only one deputy president being the third respondent (Thokozani Khupe),” Madhuku said.
He added that when Chamisa was appointed acting president during a meeting held in February 2018, it was in violation of the party’s constitution because Khupe was available to take over while waiting for the return of Tsvangirai who was in South Africa receiving treatment.
Khupe further said she is urging the court to rule in her favour and allow for the holding of the congress which is supposed to be held by the end of October this year in accordance with the party’s constitution.
In his submission, Chamisa, who is represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, accused Khupe of acting scandalously by seeking a positive relief in a matter in which she did not participate in the High Court.
Chamisa insisted that the MDC’s constitution provided for the appointment of more than one deputy president and that Justice Mushore’s determination was misdirected, adding Khupe has since moved on by leading her own party which also held its national congress and above all she participated in the July 2018 general elections.
“It’s scandalous that she did not respond to issues raised in the High Court and yet she is now seeking a positive relief from the Supreme Court,” Mpofu said, adding that the judgment of the High Court had been overtaken by events since his client was elected substantive president of the MDC during a congress that was held by the party in May 2019.
Mpofu further said Khupe also violated the constitution of the MDC-T by not inviting MDC’s Gokwe Sesame district secretary Elias Mashavira to her congress.
Mashavira is the one who raised the issue of not having been invited to the national congress that ushered Chamisa into the office of the acting president.
Mpofu further urged the Supreme Court to remit the matter to the High Court for determination, arguing the MDC was barred from the proceedings that led to Mashavira scoring a victory against his party.
Mpofu defended Tsvangirai’s decision to appoint Chamisa deputy president, saying the late founding party leader had the powers to make such appointments considering that he was the leader of the national council which in itself was “a congress outside congress”.
“The national council has the power to authorise the president to make appointments of deputies regardless of the absence of the enabling provisions …,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mashavira’s lawyer Ashell Mutungura submitted that the High Court did not err when it made a decision that Chamisa was unconstitutionally appointed deputy president.
Mutungura said: “The purported meeting of February 2018 could not have been used to discuss the possible successor of the late Tsvangirai because it had its own agenda”.
He further said there was no merit in the argument advanced by Chamisa that in the event of a vacancy in the position of president, the national council would be invited to resolve the issue.
Judgment in the matter was reserved by Justices Paddington Garwe, Antoinette Guvava and Bharat Patel.