A Zimbabwean High Court judge has ruled that The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa is not the legitimate president of his party, rendering all decisions he has made in the role invalid.
Judge Edith Mushore ruled against Chamisa’s appointment as one of the party’s vice presidents three years ago, upholding a legal challenge lodged by a rival party member.
“All the decisions made under (the) Nelson Chamisa administration are null and void. He cannot preside over party matters,” the state-run Herald newspaper said in its court report.
Veteran MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai appointed Nelson Chamisa and Engineer Elias Mudzuri as party co-vice presidents before Tsvangirai’s death last year.
Chamisa then took over as party leader and was the MDC candidate in presidential elections last year, which were won by Mnangagwa.
The court has ordered the party to convene an extraordinary congress within a month using the 2014 structures.
“The first respondent be and is, hereby, ordered to hold an extraordinary congress after the lapse of at least one month after the date of this order,” the ruling further read.
MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume dismissed Justice Mushore’s judgment, saying the choice of political party leaders was a preserve for its members.
“We fundamentally disagree with the judgment. The choice of leaders of any political party the world over is the sole preserve of the members of that party,” he said at a press briefing at the party’s headquarters after the ruling.
“It can never be a judicial process. Equally, the actions, activities and programmes of a political party, being a voluntary organization whose existence is protected by the constitution, is the sole preserve of the members that party.
“We are fully aware of the machinations and strategies being deployed by the Mnangagwa administration to destabilise and destroy the people’s project. We reiterate that Emmerson Mnangagwa is illegitimate and no amount of diversionary tactics will change this fact.”
The judgment comes a few weeks before the elective congress set for 24 to 26 May, and with nominations already done, it means they are also null and void.
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.