MDC Alliance blocks Z$7.5 million disbursement to Khupe faction

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HARARE – The ministers of justice and finance have been barred by a court from disbursing Z$7.5 million due to the MDC Alliance under the Political Parties (Finances) Act as a battle for the party’s leadership intensifies.

Justice Munangati-Manongwa on Friday granted an interim order sought by the MDC Alliance blocking the disbursement of the money to a faction led by Thokozani Khupe, which has staked a claim for the leadership of the party.

“The 1st (justice minister) and 2nd (finance minister) respondents be and are hereby interdicted, stopped and barred from disbursing the sum of $7,492,500 due to the applicant in terms of the Political Parties (Finance) Act or any other amount thereof, to any party other than the MDC Alliance,” the order said.

The MDC Alliance – which is owed the money based on its share of the vote from the July 2018 elections – is seeking a final order compelling Justice Minister Ziyambo Ziyambi to pay the amount into its account.

Khupe stood in the last election representing the MDC-T party, polling just over 45,000 votes while Nelson Chamisa, who led the MDC Alliance, polled over 2.1 million votes, according to official election results.

The Supreme Court however ruled at the end of March this year that Nelson Chamisa’s assumption of the leadership of what was then known as the MDC-T party in February 2018, upon the death of founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was irregular.

Tsvangirai had broken the party constitution by elevating Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri to be his deputies in a triumvirate with Khupe, which positioned Chamisa within striking distance of the leadership upon the leader’s death, the court added.

The court ordered an extraordinary congress to be held within three months to elect a new leadership, while restoring the party leadership that was in position at the time of Tsvangirai’s death.

Khupe, whose party got two MPs, has now claimed leadership of the MDC Alliance which took part in the last election, despite entering the election as MDC-T leader herself.

MDC Alliance lawyers say the Supreme Court ruling was moot and therefore unenforceable.

Comparing the case to that of a man who seeks promotion at his workplace but dies before a court eventually rules in his favour, Chamisa’s lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu said: “That judgment will not be worth the paper it is written on not because the authority of the court is being disdained, but because the court speaks to an impossibility. It speaks to the past as though it spoke to the present. The proverbial horse has bolted. The company no longer has anyone to promote even with all the will in the world.

“There can now no longer be talk of Khupe. Khupe had her dismissal from the party formally noted, not least because she had been dismissed by the relevant party organ but because she had gone on to hold her own substantive congress, having contested the 2018 elections as leader of her own party.

“The idea that she can now pretend to be the leader of a rival political party, and claim by that circumstance entitlement to MPs voted under President Chamisa is preposterous.”

Ziyambi and his finance counterpart Mthuli Ncube have 10 days to file a notice of opposition to the final order being granted.

On Thursday night, riot police arrived at the MDC Alliance headquarters in central Harare to assist a takeover by Khupe, but they were forced to leave because they had no court order.

The move came a day after Khupe, through former MDC Alliance secretary general Douglas Mwonzora, successfully recalled four MDC Alliance lawmakers from Parliament. The MDC Alliance on Thursday instructed all its MPs and Senators to “disengage” from Parliament.

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