Home » Judicial » High Court Ruling Escalates MDC-T War

AN interim High Court ruling barring the MDC-T Renewal Team from implementing the Mandel resolutions against a rival faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai has re-ignited the scramble for the party’s assets as well as attempts to oust the so-called “rebel Members of Parliament” from the National Assembly. The Renewal team, led by ‘expelled’ secretary-general Tendai Biti, resolved at a meeting held at Mandel Training Centre in April to suspend Tsvangirai and six of his top lieutenants, accusing the former trade unionist of displaying ‘fascist’ tendencies and using violence to crush internal opposition.

Biti’s faction, now calling itself the MDC Renewal Team, went on to summon Tsvangirai to appear before a disciplinary committee facing 17 counts of violating the party’s constitution. Tsvangirai, through lieutenants, Love-more Moyo and Thamsanga Mahlangu, however, filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking to stop the disciplinary hearing a day before it was due last Friday.

High Court judge Justice Happias Zhou granted the interim order to suspend the resolutions, giving the courts time to determine if the meeting convened by the Biti camp was lawful. MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, who also represented Tsvangirai in the case, said the High Court ruling meant that they would now be able to approach the speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda seeking to recall MPs aligned to the Biti camp.

Earlier attempts by Tsvangirai to have MPs aligned to Biti recalled from Parliament had hit a snag after Mudenda refused to be dragged into the factional infighting in the party and referred them to the courts where it would be determined who the legitimate leader of the party was.

“What this means is that we can now write a fresh letter to Parliament to have those rebel MPs recalled because the Renewal Team’s operations have been suspended,” said Mwonzora. “This, we shall do in the next few days.”

Mwonzora also said Justice Zhou’s ruling meant that the Tsvangirai camp had legal right over all party assets. “We are very happy that this ruling has rendered the Mandel meeting a nullity. What this means is that all the property they seized after the meeting, including vehicles, now falls under the administration of the MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai,” Mwonzora said.

“The Renewal Team wanted to embarrass Tsvangirai by dragging him to a disciplinary hearing in front of a dubious tribunal. For now, that has been suspended, including the decision to put the party leadership under the control of the Guardian Council which leaves us with exclusive rights over the party and everything which belongs to it,” he added.

However, Renewal Team spokesperson, Jacob Mafume ridiculed Mwonzora’s claims saying it was wishful thinking. “The ruling never put anything to finality. The Tsvangirai camp has actually made life difficult for themselves with their application to the High Court. From now on, the case can drag for up to three years. They have frozen themselves from anything related to party issues until such a time when the courts bring it to finality,” said Mafume.

“So for them to say they can now write to Parliament seeking to have the MPs recalled again is just wishful thinking,” he said.

Mafume claimed it was actually his faction that has the legal right to all the party’s assets. “It is only that we do not want to take the law into our own hands and grab party assets like they did but I can assure you that we have the right to these assets from Harvest House (the party’s headquarters) to cars and other items, they all belong to us,” Mafume said.

The main opposition party is stuck in the web of an acrimonious leadership wrangle triggered by its humiliating election loss last year.

The matter turned ugly early this year after Elton Mangoma, the then deputy treasurer general, wrote two letters calling on Tsvangirai to step down from the helm of the party citing leadership failure. But the former premier has adamantly refused to step down, turning to grassroots structures for support.

Source : Financial Gazette