Zimbabwe: Demystifying MDC-A's Half-Truth On Supreme Court Ruling

Opposition foes Nelson Chamisa and Thkozani Khupe (file photo).
13 April 2020

The Supreme Court ruling on the legitimacy of the MDC leadership, particularly its, hitherto president, Nelson Chamisa has seen lawyers in that party misleading the party followers. Tendai Biti and Professor Welshman Ncube, whose positions as the party's vice presidents were also outlawed by the historic ruling, led the pack in bending the truth.

The misinformation by the duo, if allowed to go unchecked, has a potential to incite supporters into disobeying and disrespecting the court of law. This is more so considering that the misinformation is being peddled by the people who are highly regarded as top notch legal gurus in the MDC. Therefore, this write-up attempts to demystify such misrepresentations to save the gullible MDC supporters from political manipulation.

The MDC Alliance is a group of seven political parties constituted in terms of an alliance agreement called the Composite Political Cooperation Agreement. The purpose was to contest ZANU PF in the 2018 harmonised elections as a block and in that regard; the parties would not contest one another.

The parties that entered into this "non competed agreement" were the MDC T led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, Professor Welshman Ncube's MDC, MCD led by Mathias Guchutu, Transform Zimbabwe led by Jacob Ngarivhume, Zimbabwe People First led by Agrippa Mutambara and ZANU Ndonga led by Denford Musiyarira.

The parties agreed to form a "non-compete pre-election pact" and post-election coalition government if they won the election. What this means is that if the block won the presidential election and was going to establish a government, then that coalition government would be made up of the Alliance partners.

Failure by the block to win the harmonised election meant the end of the partnership and if anything more, it was subject to further negotiations.

In terms of Clause 2.0 of the Pact, "the parties agreed that the Alliance partners shall remain and operate as independent parties save for those aspects specifically provided for in this agreement".

Each party was given its own quota of candidates to field depending on its strength. Under clause 3(e), "Each party will independently field its full quota of proportional representation candidates in the provinces it is fielding first past the post candidates save for where two or more parties were using a common name and symbol."

Clause 3(I) states, "In the event of a vacancy occurring for the presidency for whatever reason before the election, then the candidate's party shall second another candidate and if such vacancy occurs after the election, then the provisions of the national constitution shall apply."

If the parties formed the government, the president could only remove a minister or deputy minister after consultation with the president of the party of that particular individual.

In addition, Clause states that each party would appoint its own Chief Whip in Parliament. Similarly, each party would appoint its own whips in Local and Provincial Councils.

This clearly shows that the Alliance was never designed to be a political party and never acted as one.

The Alliance was a loose non-body corporate entity different from the parties that constituted it.

Going into the ill-fated Gweru congress, Professor Ncube dissolved his MDC and joined the main MDC which was at that time purportedly led by Chamisa. Biti and the other five did not dissolve their parties which remained intact to date.

The Gweru congress was convened using the constitution of the main MDC. There isn't an MDC Alliance constitution showing that it is not a separate political party. If indeed the congress in Gweru was an Alliance affair, it should definitely have been its inaugural congress. However, it was known as the fifth congress, meaning that it was a follow-up congress to the fourth MDC congress of 2014.

The purported resolutions from that congress, which were made public immediately after, were titled 'MDC 5th Congress Resolutions.' Therefore, the judgment affecting the MDC cannot be defeated nor ignored on the basis that it does not mention MDC Alliance. It involves a major component of the MDC Alliance, the MDC as left by Tsvangirai and purportedly taken over by Chamisa.

Professor Ncube and Biti are, therefore, misleading the MDC supporters and MPs that they belonged to a party called MDC Alliance because they participated in a "congress" they were not supposed to participate in.

They were not supposed to, by virtue of not satisfying the constitutional demands of participating in an MDC congress.

Furthermore, Professor Ncube and Biti slaughtered 10 cattle each to "feed" the delegates in a classic case of vote buying.

What is also clear is that each of the elected officials under the banner of the MDC Alliance was sponsored by an individual political party in the alliance. It is that party that has the power to recall elected officials in line with the interests of their individual political parties.

So the MDC as mentioned in the Supreme Court judgment has control over all elected officials under the alliance banner who were sponsored by that party.

In terms of the national Constitution, one of the grounds for a recall is joining another political party other than the one that sponsored your election.

If the MDC Alliance by the 2019 Gweru congress morphed into a political party, then all elected officials who were sponsored by the different parties under the banner of the 2018 MDC Alliance practically cease to be such elected the moment they confirm membership of MDC Alliance party.

Specifically, section 129.1.(k) says: "If a member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it."

Professor Ncube and Biti must therefore stop misleading their youthful leader and supporters.

As a party that claims to be the epitome of democracy, they must accept and respect the court processes. They must abide by the rule of law, constitutionalism and respect for institutions as they generously prescribe to others.

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