BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora’s position has come under renewed threat after a founding MDC member approached the High Court challenging the legitimacy of the party’s extraordinary congress and recall of MDC Alliance legislators from Parliament.
Amos Kaliati, the current MDC-T secretary of mines and mineral resources in Chitungwiza, is also challenging Mwonzora’s appointment of Elias Mudzuri and Morgan Komichi as deputy president and national chairperson respectively, arguing the appointments were in violation of the party’s constitution.
Mwonzora was elected leader of the MDC during an extraordinary congress held in December in Harare, taking over from his deputy Thokozani Khupe who had been acting-president of the splinter MDC group after the death of founding party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Supreme Court confirmed Khupe as acting-president in March 2020 after seizing control of the party from MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
The Court directed Khupe to hold an extraordinary congress within three months from March, but it was delayed till December.
In court papers filed at the High Court on Friday, Kaliati through his lawyers Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni legal practitioners argued that Mwonzora’s presidency is null and void as all proceedings leading to the holding of the extraordinary congress were in violation of the party’s constitution.
“Following the decision of the Supreme Court on 31 March 2020, the lawful organs of the party did not meet.
“In this regard, whatever decisions that are purported to have been made on behalf of the first respondent after 30 March 2020 cannot be valid as the national council did not meet to discharge its constitutional mandate,” Kaliati argued.
The MDC, Khupe, Komichi, Mwonzora and Mudzuri are cited as the first to fifth respondent respectively.
“As a result of the above, I hold the view, and seek this court’s determination to the effect that 2nd and 4th respondents refused, neglected and/or failed to act in terms of the party constitution with respect to convening the national council for the purposes of the effective, transparent and accountable running of the affairs of the first respondent,” the application says.
“Consequently, any decision made and/or not ratified by the national council as shown in Annexure AK-4 and 5 above is invalid and not binding on the First Respondent.”
Kaliati also argued that the extraordinary congress did not constitute a quorum as required by “section 6.2.7 as read with section 6.2 of the party constitution,” adding an ordinary congress has also not been held to ratify decisions of the extraordinary congress, rendering it a legal nullity.
“Further, despite the lapse of six months from the date of the extra-ordinary congress, ordinary congress was not held to approve the decisions of the extraordinary congress as required by section 6.2.6 of the party constitution in the event of the extra-ordinary congress proceeding without a quorum,” Kaliati argued.
“The six month period lapsed on 30 June 2021. No ordinary congress was held as at that date.
“Consequently, by operation of the party constitution, that extra-ordinary congress ceases to have any force and is rendered invalid.”
With regards to recalls, Kaliati argues “that the appropriate structures and organs of the MDC were never seized” with the matter and, therefore, did not represent the party position.
“Those communications are not, therefore, from the first respondent and ought not be given any consideration, force or effect by any person,” he added.
The country awaits by-elections after Khupe recalled a number of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors across the country for not showing allegiance to her.
“After the extraordinary congress of 27 December 2020, fourth respondent, who claimed victory in the election held for the party presidency, appointed 2nd respondent as one of his deputy presidents together with one Elias Mudzuri.
“This has the effect of negating the party constitution as found in the Supreme Court decision relied upon in this matter.
“This is on account of neither of them having been elected as deputy presidents of the party at the extra-ordinary congress in question.”
Kaliati argued as a way forward and in line with the party’s constitution, the national council “as it stood on 31 March 2020, must sit and determine how best to steer the party moving forward in a manner that is consistent with the dictates of the party constitution.”
Mwonzora and other respondents have 10 days to file opposing papers.
Happymore Chidziva, the national youth assembly chairperson of the party and also a member of the national standing committee, national executive committee and national council filed a supporting affidavit in favour of Kaliati.
Chidziva said the congress was a nullity because bona fide members of the party’s 2014 structures were not invited.