Zimbabwe: Mwonzora Hits Ground Running

31 December 2020

Newly elected MDC-T President Douglas Mwonzora has taken control of the party and immediately hit the ground running by announcing new members of the party's national executive and national standing committee.

Mwonzora was elected substantive president of the MDC-T at the party's Supreme Court sanctioned Extra Ordinary Committee despite contestations from fellow contestants Thokozani Khupe, Morgen Komichi and Elias Mudzuri.

Addressing journalists during his maiden press conference as party president at Harvest House, Mwonzora said Khupe and Komichi will retain positions they held.

"As things stand the national standing committee is myself as elected by the Extra Ordinary Congress, our first vice president is Dr. Thokozani Khupe. This is by operation of the constitution. We were having an Extra Ordinary Congress to elect a substantive president and therefore the vice president elected at the 2014 congress remains vice president of the party," said Mwonzora

Subject to consultation with party's National Standing Committee he proposed the elevation of Engineer Elias Mudzuri for the position of second vice president.

"I would be proposing to the National Council that will sit sometime in January and as you know in terms of the MDC constitution the first National Council sits as a continuation of congress so there are certain legal things that we need to deal with in order to bring our constitution in line with the national constitution that entails the appointment of a second vice president and I will be proposing that the second vice president will be Engineer Elias Mudzuri. This will be pending the decision of the National Council in view of the Supreme Court ruling" he said.

Mwonzora said Senator Morgen Komichi remains the party's national chairman.

Meanwhile, constitutional lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku on Tuesday gave his legal opinion on the ongoing MDC T saga that saw Khupe trying to overturn the election of Mwonzora.

"As soon as the voting process began under the direction of the Independent electoral body, the Acting President became a candidate in the election of the President. Thereafter, she could neither cancel the extraordinary Congress nor suspend the Secretary General who was also a candidate in the same election.

"It is now settled in law that an office-heftier who is conflicted cannot exercise any of the powers that attach to the particular office to the extent to which the exercise of that power would involve a conflict of interest." read Prof Madhuku's opinion.

He added "There are only two ways in which the voting process could have been prematurely stopped: either by a decision of the independent electoral body itself based on objectively verifiable reasons or by an order of a competent court.

"As the voting process could not have been stopped by the Acting President [given the conflict of interest point above], at law, the voting at the extraordinary Congress on 27 December, 2020 was never stopped."

He said because the voting was never stopped at law the results announced by the independent electoral body are presumed to be valid.

"The presumption of validity means that unless set aside by a competent court, Douglas Mwonzora is duly elected as President. Any candidate in the election or any member of the MDC-T is entitled to approach a competent court to challenge either the validity of the extraordinary Congress itself or the conduct of the election of the President.

"The Supreme Court is now out of it because of the presumption of validity I have referred to above. However, until there is an order of court to the contrary, Douglas Mwonzora is the President." said Prof Madhuku

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