THE messy tug-of-war between MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and his MDC-T nemesis Thokozani Khupe has taken a new twist after it emerged the two will once again square off in the Supreme Court over the extension of Khupe’s leadership.
In March, the Supreme Court ruled that Nelson Chamisa was an illegitimate leader of the MDC, paving the way for Khupe to return as the interim leader of the party pending an extraordinary congress which was supposed to have been held by July 31.
The congress, however, failed to proceed due to the ongoing Covid-19-induced restrictions.
This effectively means Khupe’s mandate as interim president has expired.
As such, the MDC-T made an application at the Supreme Court on July 29 seeking an extension to Khupe’s current term and citing Chamisa as a respondent.
Chamisa, through his lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, notified the court of his intention to oppose the application.
MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the development in a recent interview with the Zimbabwe Independent saying lawyers from both sides have since met and deliberated on the issue.
He said Chamisa’s legal team has been given time to prepare their papers.
“We were supposed to have held our extraordinary congress on July 31 but we were stopped by the health officials and police because of the Covid-19 restrictions,” Mwonzora said.
“We have therefore applied for an extension and the matter is going to be argued in the Supreme Court. So the lawyers met and agreed on certain timelines to manage the case. In other words, we have filed our application. The respondents were given time within which to respond because they indicated that they want to oppose the application.
“Chamisa wants to oppose the application and he is going to be given time to file his papers. We have no problem with that. The application was made two days before the expiry of the term of the interim president,” he said.
Mwonzora also said apart from Khupe, other office bearers were not affected.
“The mandates of other office bearers do not expire. They can only expire after the holding of the ordinary congress, not even the extraordinary congress because as you know, the extraordinary congress is for the election of a president and after that, that president will organise the ordinary congress to elect everyone. So the mandate continues until the holding of that congress.
“So my mandate for example doesn’t expire until the holding of a congress that chooses the secretary general,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere were fruitless as she was not answering calls to her mobile phone. Advocate Mpofu was also not reachable.
Chamisa took over as MDC president in controversial circumstances in 2018 after he outwitted his then two co-vice-presidents, Khupe and Elias Mudzuri during a nasty fight which played out at a time when Tsvangirai was on his deathbed in South Africa.
Relying on a militant youth wing, known as the Vanguard, which allegedly launched violent raids in Khupe’s camp, Chamisa managed to outfox her. Khupe was his most potent rival then.