New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: High Court Blocks Tsvangirai Suspension

THE High Court has frozen the suspension of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai by Tendai Biti and his Renewal faction, pending the finalisation of a case in which the ex-premier is challenging the legality of the breakaway group and its resolutions.

Justice Zhou passed a Chamber ruling that effectively froze the resolutions of the Mandel Centre meeting which suspended Tsvangirai until the issue of who the legitimate MDC-T was, is determined.

"Pending finalisation of the applicants' action brought under case number HC 4955/14, the respondents or any other person claiming through them be and are hereby interdicted from implementing any resolution of the meeting held by respondents at Mandel centre on the 26th of April," reads the ruling by Justice Happius Zhou.

MDC-T spokesperson and Tsvangirai ally Douglas Mwonzora was elated with the court ruling which he said was victory for his MDC-T.

"This is a victory for president Tsvangirai and the MDC-T family because it makes sure that nobody is undemocratically interfering with our leaders.

"This is just a provisional order ... but the truth of the matter is that the MDC-T have won this case."

Reprieve as suspension temporarily put on hold by courts ... Morgan Tsvangirai

However, at a press briefing Friday noon, Jacob Mafume, spokesperson of the Renewal Team said a three-member tribunal which comprised lawyers Gift Nyandoro, Tafadzwa Mugabe and Edward Hamunikwa sat Friday morning and was expected to pass a default ruling after Tsvangirai and party national chair Lovemore Moyo failed to turn up.

"They (tribunal members) sat at the appropriate time. The two members (Tsvangirai and Moyo) did not pitch up. They did not explain why they did not turn up ...

"They were in default so the consequences of a default judgement follow. We prosecuted our case to the fullest," said Mafume.

He downplayed the High Court ruling which he said only cited Biti and others but skirted the tribunal, which he insisted remained independent.

"The tribunal, up to now, has not been served with any court papers or been brought before any court action. We are not aware of the people who were cited ... up to now we have not been served with the papers nor have we been served with the court judgement," he said.

Responding to Mafume's remarks, Mwonzora said: "This is the speech of somebody who doesn't know the law that much.

"One of the averments we made in the court papers is that the identity of the tribunal was never disclosed to us. We are hearing for the first time that the tribunal was made up of Gift Nyandoro.

"So we actually told the court that we do not know the identity of the tribunal but the person who had called President Tsvangirai and Lovemore Moyo and others to the hearing was Tendai Biti.

"This is the behaviour of people who don't respect the law. There is a judgement that says everything must stop and they know it and they choose just to circumvent that judgement.

"They have done that with the MDC constitution. They are doing that with that High Court judgement it is despicable and to think that these are lawyers it is very, very worrying."

Biti, secretary general of the beleaguered opposition, teamed up with party deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma to convene the disputed April 26 Mandel Training Centre "national council" meeting which decreed Tsvangirai's suspension and that of his top leadership.

The group was accusing the founding leader of presiding over a largely barren and dictatorial leadership that was violating the party's constitution, among other offences.

They went on to summon Tsvangirai to a disciplinary tribunal which the MDC-T leader also challenged.

This prompted MDC-T Nkulumane MP, Thamsanqa Mahlangu and 129 other national council members who did not take part in the Mandel meeting to file a court challenge seeking the dismissal of the meeting.

Mahlangu argued that the full MDC-T national council meeting was made up of 175 members but 130 members of the group were by-passed when Biti and his group decided to suspend the party's leadership.

The respondents in the case were Biti, Mangoma, Samuel-Sipepa Nkomo and Sekai Holland. The High Court is yet to rule on that matter.

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