Reinstated MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora has delivered stinging criticism of his long-time nemesis Nelson Chamisa and his allies, saying they faced disciplinary action for failing to comply with Tuesday's Supreme Court decision rendering Thokozani Khupe as the rightful leader of the party.
The Chamisa camp, most notably his deputies Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, mocked the ruling, saying it did not affect their structures.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Chamisa was not the legitimate leader of the main opposition party, in so doing affirming an earlier High Court decision.
Chamisa gained control of the party in a dramatic fashion when the now late founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, was on his deathbed in South Africa. Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer in February 14, 2018. The court said the party should revert to 2014 structures, which in principle implies the firebrand youthful politician is relegated to a national council member position while Khupe -- who was elected MDC vice-president at the October 2014 congress -- assumes the reins.
Mwonzora beat Chamisa in the race for the secretary-general's position at that congress.
The Supreme Court also ordered the party to hold an extraordinary congress in the next three months.
Biti said the ruling was a nullity since it had been overtaken by events.
Both Khupe and Chamisa held separate congresses last year. They also separately contested the 2018 presidential election in which Khupe performed dismally.
Biti further averred that the ruling was made in terms of the MDC-T, which Khupe led, and not Chamisa's MDC Alliance.
"The congress of May 2019 stands and cannot be affected by any ruling and determination on a judgement affecting the MDC-T. We are MDC Alliance. The next congress of the MDC Alliance is in May 2023, not anytime before," he said.
Ncube also dismissed the ruling.
However, Mwonzora, in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent said the two officials were offside.
"The chairman (Morgen Komichi) made it clear that we will comply with the ruling. Then we heard some people say they will not comply and that's rather sad because we insist it should be complied with," he said, adding Biti and Ncube were "wrong and dishonest".
"They are wrong and dishonest. The MDC Alliance is not a political party, but a group of seven parties, of which the principal party is the MDC. In terms of the alliance agreement, anyone who is the MDC president automatically becomes the leader of the alliance. Similarly, it means that once that person has lost the presidency of the MDC, he/she would have automatically lost the alliance leadership," Mwonzora said.
"In the MDC alliance, the seven parties retained their statuses as individual parties. So Mr Biti's party is the PDP (People's Democratic Party) and Ncube's party is MDC Green. We were therefore surprised to hear PDP people trying to comment on MDC issues. So the judgement affects one of the parties which is a member of the MDC Alliance.
The interpretation by of the (alliance) agreement by Biti is thus an awkward attempt to gain cheap political mileage by lying to the people. Biti and Ncube are very senior lawyers and they must be honest to Chamisa and to Zimbabwe," he said.
Mwonzora added that failure to comply with the court's decision would lead to the party instituting disciplinary action.
"The MDC is a party of rules. We respect and advocate for the rule of law and constitutionalism. We cannot accept lawlessness disguised as politics. Gone are the days when people would break their own rules with impunity. If we fail to obey court rulings while we are in the opposition, what would happen if we are given state power?" Mwonzora said.
"So, if people fail to comply with the ruling, they will be taking a conscious risk and would be careless because the party will trigger its rules."
However, Luke Tamborinyoka, the hitherto MDC deputy spokesperson and a Chamisa loyalist, scoffed at Mwonzora's suggestions.
"The ruling doesn't mean anything to anyone, and Mwonzora should know that. We cannot be bound by a decision of a captured judiciary. We went into elections with our own insignia and Khupe went with her own insignia. We have had separate congresses too, indicating that we are different entities. How will such disciplinary action be effected? It's a joke," he said.