Chief Court Reporter
MDC-T has appealed to the Supreme Court challenging Monday’s High Court decision to block it from replacing four legislators it recently recalled until their court application contesting the party’s right to recall them has been determined.
Through its lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court the same day the injunction against the party was issued.
“We appealed yesterday (Monday),” said Prof Madhuku without giving details of his grounds of appeal. The effect of the appeal is that it suspends the High Court decision.
Granting the interim order stopping the replacements of the four legislators, Justice Joseph Martin Mafusire went further and proposed that all matters involving rival MDC groups be consolidated into a single case to avoid conflicting judgments.
Justice Mafusire took the view that MDC-A is a political party, which tallies with that taken by Justice Priscilla Manongwe in the dispute over party funds pitting Nelson Chamisa-led MDC-Alliance and the Khupe-led MDC-T.
He cited the fact that Parliament, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Executive had all recognised the party, as such. The four were elected on the MDC-Alliance ticket although they were originally nominated by the MDC-T. Legal rows revolve over whether the MDC-A, which has been recognised as a political party, is also a new legal entity superseding the parties that originally formed the alliance, a process that saw the members of the largest component, the MDC-T, splitting into two camps.
Last week Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled in the High Court that while the MDC-A was recognised as a political party, it lacks the legal capacity to sue and being sued, being in effect an electoral coalition.
Justice Mafusire made it clear that he thought the MDC-A had a more independent existence, but noted he was not being asked to rule on the matter.
MDC-A legislators secretary-general Chalton Hwende and MP for Kuwadzana East, Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura-Chikanga), Thabitha Khumalo (proportional representative for Bulawayo Province) and Senator Lillian Timveos (Midlands) had approached the court seeking to bar Dr Khupe from replacing them following their recall from Parliament until the legal status of this recall was finally resolved.
Justice Mafusire found it undesirable that there should be conflicting decisions by judges from the same court over the same issue.
“It brings uncertainty in the law, causes confusion and adversely affects the integrity of the courts,” he said.
“One way to minimise the incidence of conflicting decisions is, where possible, to have all matters dealing with the same point or similar issues consolidated and heard by one judge. If not, and the conflicting decisions have been made, it is left to the Supreme Court, on appeal, to lay down the law authoritatively.”
The four were recalled following the Supreme Court ruling, which nullified the assumption of the presidency of the MDC-T by Nelson Chamisa early this year.
However, Justice Mafusire upheld the quartet’s apprehension of an irreparable harm noting that the legislators had been MPs and suddenly, without notice to them, were ejected from the Parliament.
The judge noted that the tenure of seats in Parliament was limited, while the wrangling in the parties have been going for a long time. This, the court found, might result in the legislators being unable to serve the people who sent them to Parliament.
The court could not agree with Prof Madhuku’s argument that if the four eventually win their case, they can be reinstated.