Court ruling on Nelson Chamisa's leadership legitimacy could hit MDC pockets
The MDC Alliance could lose ownership of a multimillion-dollar building and be forced to pay back $1.8m it received from the state after the high court on Wednesday declared Nelson Chamisa's leadership of the alliance illegitimate.
Harvest House - now Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House - is the iconic venue where Chamisa sneaked in through a hole to address party supporters and assume leadership a few days after the death of former leader Morgan Tsvangirai. His move virtually pushed his co-deputies, Thokozani Khupe and Elias Mudzuri, out of leadership contention.
A month later, the MDC, led by Chamisa, received $1.8m from the government under the Political Parties (Finance) Act. The breakaway faction led by Khupe then wrote a letter to the government demanding the money. She argued that she had the constitutional power to run the party because she had received a mandate from its congress.
Now, with the high court also ruling that the party should revert to the 2014 elective congress structures that made Khupe the only vice-president, she could argue her case for the party's assets.
Khupe's spokesperson, Khaliphani Phugeni, told the Sunday Times the ruling was welcome because it settled the entitlement issue.
However, some in the MDC Alliance scoffed at the ruling and even suggested ignoring it. They linked it to Zanu-PF's machinations to destroy the opposition."There is no reasonable way to give it effect. It is a political hit job. It is President Emmerson Mnangagwa's last-ditch [effort] and it is very desperate," said Chamisa's spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda.But with certain issues in mind, such as the use of the party name, control of immovable and movable assets, as well as access to bank accounts, the alliance's legal minds are now considering the way forward. "We have 15 days from the date of the judgment. We will take the advice of lawyers on its impact and then we will appeal if they deem it necessary," said spokesman Jacob Mafume.Respected lawyer Alex Magaisa, in his blog The Big Saturday Read, said the ruling was a threat to democracy. Magaisa was an adviser to Tsvangirai during the 2009-2013 inclusive government."The most fundamental effect is that the judgment represents an existential threat upon the country's main opposition, which has so far refused to budge to ruling party demands," wrote Magaisa. "It is a strategic and insidious assault on the very existence of the MDC led by Chamisa. Here, law and politics collide to produce a serious blow upon democracy."He also argued that it was a classic case of how political suppression had moved from the traditional killings and arrests to hiding behind a veneer of legality and pretending to be acting according to the law.