via Battle for MDC-T spills into court | The Herald June 24, 2014 by Zvamaida Murwira and Nyemudzai Kakore
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s faction has approached the High Court seeking to be declared the legitimate custodians of the party and wants the faction led by Mr Tendai Biti to return assets in its possession. Mr Tsvangirai listed the assets as 120 vehicles of different types and all party offices, including Harvest House, the party’s headquarters.
The decision by Mr Tsvangirai’s camp followed a recent ruling by National Assembly Speaker Cde Jacob Mudenda declining to make a determination on the legitimate custodian of the party between the two warring factions and advised both parties to go to court if they wanted to have a resolution of their dispute.
This was after both camps had written to Cde Mudenda claiming rights over the party and wanting certain Members of Parliament who did not belong to their faction expelled.
In the latest court case, Mr Tsvangirai wants the court to nullify the resolution of a meeting held at Mandel Training Centre in April this year in which he and other senior party officials were suspended by the Biti-led group which calls itself the Renewal Team.
He submitted that the meeting was not properly constituted as only 33 members attended, excluding at least 130 other members of the national council.
Mr Tsvangirai’s faction listed vehicles most of which were Isuzu KB trucks which were in the custody of the Biti faction, while 24 others were said to be either damaged through road accidents or burnt at the height of political violence.
At least six vehicles were listed as having been confiscated by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
The faction alleged that Mr Biti, party deputy treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma and party coordinator Mr Fortune Gwaze were appointed directors of Laphonic Investments, a firm that was formed to ensure the security of the party’s assets.
It was submitted that the trio had not resigned as directors of the firm as agreed in February this year to pave way for other party appointees.
Renewal Team spokesperson Mr Jacob Mafume yesterday said they were going to oppose the application and would use University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Dr Lovemore Madhuku as their lawyer.
“The legal action is not only ill advised, but bad at law,” he said. “The people who are bringing the lawsuit are on suspension and they have no locus standi to bring that legal action. That advice could only have come from a bush lawyer.
“We are on sound legal footing on these issues and we will see as the matter progresses.”
In the court papers, Mr Tsvangirai listed 120 party members from 130 which he said were left out of the Mandel meeting.
“All the 130 plaintiffs are lawful members of the National Council meeting of the MDC having been elected as such in 2011,” he said. “In terms of the constitution of the MDC none of the defendants have power to convene a meeting of the national council.”
It was submitted that the subsequent suspension of Mr Tsvangirai and other senior party officials by Mr Biti’s faction was unlawful as it was not consistent with the party’s constitution.
The Tsvangirai faction alleged that the Biti faction used Mr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo to chair the council meeting at Mandel who had no authority to chair it in terms of their constitution.