MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday obtained a provisional High Court order halting the disbursement of $7.5 million under the Political Parties Finance Act to the Thokozani Khupe -led MDC-T as assets became the latest battleground in the fractured opposition.
Government was due to release the money given to political parties with more than five seats in Parliament to the MDC Alliance at a time the opposition party had been thrown into disarray by a Supreme Court ruling declaring Chamisa an illegitimate leader.
The ruling made last month, also declared Khupe the acting president of the opposition party until an extra congress to be held in three months. This is despite Chamisa and Khupe participating in the last general elections under different political groupings.
Armed with the ruling, Douglas Mwonzora, who was secretary general under the party’s 2014 structures, immediately defected to Khupe and has since recalled four Chamisa MPs from Parliament as he steps up efforts to assume control of the party.
But Chamisa approached the courts seeking to block the release of the $7,5 million to Khupe.
High Court judge Justice Munangati Manongwa ruled in Chamisa’s favour, setting the stage for another bruising legal battle in the opposition camp. Chamisa’s lawyers are seeking a final order to have Minister of Justice, Ministry of Finance and the Parliament of Zimbabwe deposit $7 492 500 into the MDC Alliance bank account.
“It is ordered that within seven days from the date of service of this order, Justice Minister, shall pay into the applicants account… held at Steward Bank, all amounts due to the MDC Alliance in terms of the Political Parties Finance Act 2:11 in the sum $7 492 500,00,” reads part of interim order issued under HC2199/20 read. The Justice Minister, and Minister of Finance be and are hereby interdicted, stopped, 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 came after riot police were involved in a late night attempt to take over control of the MDC headquarters on behalf of Mwonzora on Thursday without a court order
MDC Alliance secretary-general Chalton Hwende said the police demanded that they hand over the keys to the building.
“They wanted us to handover the party headquarters to Khupe, they came using a letter from Mwonzora which has no legal standing,” Hwende said.
“It is not a court order and one wonders when and how the MDC-T got ownership and therefore rights to evict us from a building that they don’t own.”
Hwende’s deputy, Jameson Timba, also said the MDC was mounting a two pronged approach to defend what he called the democratic space.
“You will see when we roll out our response which will be both political and legal, the legal will see the expulsion of our colleagues being challenged in court, this is mostly to expose the blatant abuse of Parliament to settle political scores,” Timba said. The other is political. A total mass resignation of our legislators forcing elections, this will take the battle to the people, we are happy to settle it once and for all through the people.”
The MDC, through its deputy national chairman, Job Sikhala, announced the temporary withdrawal from Parliament until consultations with various stakeholders are complete in protest over the recall of its MPs by the Khupe camp. The MDC Alliance however argues that if the MDC-T went to elections through the MDC Alliance, it can only recall any member of Parliament of council through the MDC Alliance.
Mwonzora, however, dismissed Sikhala who announced his sacking from the party saying he would not be listening to the voices of people who have been defeated. I cannot be dismissed from a party that I do not belong to, I do not belong to their party, I am secretary-general for the MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai,” Mwonzora said.
“This announcement does not make sense; these people don’t know what they are doing. They are still reeling from the defeat that they suffered at Parliament and in the courts. I don’t blame them at all because they are in sixes and sevens.”