The MDC faction led by Thokozani Khupe yesterday held its first meeting at the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House (formerly Harvest House), two weeks after seizing control of the building from rivals with the help of the army and police and resolved to recall more defiant legislators and councillors. The building, seen as the citadel of opposition politics, is largely symbolic and was named after the party’s late founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February 2018.
Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance occupied the building until June 5 before being muscled out by armed soldiers and police on behalf of Khupe.Chamisa’s allies led by party vice-president and former Finance minister Tendai Biti were arrested after they attempted to reclaim the premises.
They were, however, later released on $1 000 bail each.Divisions in the opposition MDC have widened since March 30 when the Supreme Court ruled that Chamisa’s appointment as party deputy president by Tsvangirai in 2016 and his rise to the presidency, was unconstitutional.
The court appointed Khupe, who was heading another faction, to lead the party in the interim. Chamisa’s camp has challenged the takeover of the building and the matter was set before High Court judge Justice David Mangota at the weekend. Justice Mangota is still to hand down his judgment.
Douglas Mwonzora, who was elected to the Senate under the MDC Alliance ticket, but claims to have reverted to the post of party secretary-general which he held until he lost elections at the congress last year, said his faction was prepared to defend its violent occupation of the building.
“We saw in the court some people claiming that Harvest House belonged to them. We reiterate that it belongs to the MDC. As a party, we will do everything that is in our power to safeguard our property, it is not a private property owned by the company,” he said.
Mwonzora said they had resolved to recall MDC Alliance councillors and MPs who have stopped representing them in Parliament despite Khupe’s faction failing to win any seats in the 2018 general election.
It has two proportional representatives in Parliament, but claims the court ruling gave it control of legislators belonging to the rival camp.
“We discussed the issues of recalls of councillors as well as MPs who have joined other political parties,” Mwonzora said.
“We are going to proceed with these, but we will deal with them on a case-by-case basis. We have said and maintained that we are not vindictive; we are not there to cause misery to people.
“We are there to safeguard the interests of members of the MDC. So those who have joined other political parties cannot continue to represent our members in Parliament.”
Already, Mwonzora has recalled four MDC Alliance legislators who have since approached the courts, seeking to reverse the recalls.
The courts gave relief to the MDC Alliance after granting an interim order that the MDC-T cannot replace the recalled MPs. The case is still pending at the courts.
Mwonzora said while the matters are being settled in court, his party will continue to recall more MDC Alliance MPs.
“The High Court ruled that we can continue with our recalls. In other words, the interdict that sought to stop us from recalling was dismissed by Justice Tawanda Chitapi,” Mwonzora said.
“The other judgment to say we cannot replace Members of Parliament even as we face the expiration of the mandatory 90 days, we have appealed against that judgment.
“The effect of the appeal is to suspend the decision appealed against and, therefore, as things stand, nothing stops us from recalling our MPs and replacing them. We will exercise that lawful option.”
But MDC Alliance presidential affairs secretary Jameson Timba said Mwonzora was day-dreaming.
“Nobody other than the MDC Alliance has the lawful authority to recall MPs and councillors,” Timba said. “We will take all the necessary steps to protect the people’s project.”
Khupe also made new appointments which saw Manase Tsvangirai being appointed secretary for elections and Shakespear Mukoyi being elevated to youth leader.
Former MDC-T vice-president Elias Mudzuri was appointed deputy chairman while Gift Chimanikire now holds the deputy organising secretary post.
Khupe’s spokesperson Khalipani Phugeni takes over as deputy spokesperson of the party while Chief Ndlovu was appointed deputy treasurer-general.
Mwonzora also indicated that there was a decision to be taken on the women’s assembly leadership post, which was held by Lynnette Karenyi-Kore in 2014.
Karenyi-Kore is now one of the three MDC Alliance vice-presidents. There was no mention of who will hold the position of treasurer-general, a position which was occupied by Theresa Makone.
Addressing the same conference, Khupe announced her comeback, saying she was stirring the ship back to its founding values as a labour-backed party.