MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was yesterday sued at the High Court by party members for violating the party’s constitution when he appointed Advocate Nelson Chamisa and Engineer Elias Mudzuri to the vice presidency.
The appointments were made last Friday and the two join Ms Thokozani Khupe as VPs.
Mr Tsvangirai was sued by Mr George Rice, a provincial executive member, and Mr Patson Murimoga, a musician.
Mr Murimoga is the MDC-T member who composed jingles praising Mr Tsvangirai which were used in his 2013 presidential campaign.
Mr Tsvangirai is cited as the first respondent, with Adv Chamisa and Eng Mudzuri listed as second and third, respectively.
Mr Lovemore Moyo is cited as the fourth respondent in his capacity as MDC-T national chairman, while MDC-T is cited as the fifth respondent.
“In his founding affidavit, Mr Murimoga argues that the appointments contravened the party’s constitution and should be reversed.
“On the 15th of July 2016, first respondent (Mr Tsvangirai) convened a Press conference at his Highlands House where he announced that he had appointed first and second respondents as deputy presidents of the fifth respondent (MDC-T).
“In that Press conference, first respondent claimed he was making the appointment of second and third respondent in terms of the fifth respondent’s constitution. The second and third respondents are cited so that they state clearly if their appointment by the first respondent as deputy presidents of the fifth respondent is in terms of the constitution of the fifth respondent,” said Mr Murimoga.
He justified citation of second and third respondents saying they could possibly be affected by the application.
“In particular, the first respondent claimed that he was authorised by the national council of the fifth respondent to make those appointments of second and third respondents,” added Mr Murimoga.
He said the appointment of Adv Chamisa and Eng Mudzuri had a bearing on his MDC-T membership.
“I have been a loyal member of the fifth respondent from its formation and I am a musician who has been a praise singer of the first and fifth respondents and I even sang the jingle that first respondent used to campaign in the 2013 Presidential elections. The song I sang was in vernacular and called Tsvangirai Kakata, Tsvangirai dhonza, which was repeatedly aired on national television,” said Mr Murimoga.
“I also have interest in making sure that the fifth respondent’s constitution, which binds me, is respected by all members of the fifth respondent including the first respondent.”
Mr Murimoga claimed to have substantial and direct interest in the decisions that are made for and on behalf of the MDC-T.
“In this case I am particularly affected by the appointment of second and third respondents as deputy presidents of the fifth without following the constitution of the fifth respondent.
“I seek that this Honourable Court to declare that the first respondent’s actions of appointing second and third respondent deputy presidents of the fifth respondent to be in violation of the fifth respondent’s constitution and therefore null and void,” he said.
Mr Murimoga argues that the MDC-T constitution was clear in Article 184.108.40.206 that the “deputy president shall be elected directly by congress from nominations made by the provinces”.
It is his argument that the appointment of the two VPs was a “clear violation of the constitutional right of members of the fifth respondent who participate in the congress or who appoint congress delegates who then nominate the deputy president from their provinces.”
“I am in particular entitled to participate in nomination of deputy president from the province I come from, that is Masvingo,” said Mr Murimoga.
He said the MDC-T national council could not usurp the decisions supposed to be made by congress.
“The national council cannot appoint deputy president who should be voted for from nominations from the provinces that make up the fifth respondent,” said Mr Murimoga.
He said the MDC-T constitution did not empower the national council or Mr Tsvangirai to appoint a deputy president, stressing that only congress carries such a mandate.
“Congress has powers provided for in Article 6.2.3 of the fifth respondent’s constitution while national council is provided for in Article 6.4.7. The national council is not an elective forum in that there are no elections done in the national council particularly of the deputy president while at the congress there are elections done,” said Mr Murimoga.
He stated that the MDC-T constitution was explicit in Article 220.127.116.11 that “the national standing committee shall constitute of the following …(b) the deputy president who shall be elected directly by congress from nominations made by the province.”
Mr Murimoga argues that Adv Chamisa and Eng Mudzuri “were never elected by anyone”.
“The other aspect that is clear is that there are two stages of electing deputy presidents which are; (a) they must be nominated by the provinces that makes up the fifth respondent (b) the congress will then have to elect directly the deputy presidents.
“The second and third respondents were never nominated by any province including the province I come from, that is Masvingo Province. There was never congress that elected second and third respondents and therefore their appointment as deputy presidents of the fifth respondent is ultra vires the constitution of the fifth respondent and is void ab initio,” he added.
Mr Murimoga took a dig at Mr Tsvangirai.
“For first respondent to violate the constitution…he should be protecting smacks of double standards in that he preached and teaches what he does not practice.”
He said Mr Tsvangirai did not have “power to relax the peremptory provisions of the fifth respondent’s constitution”.
Mr Murimoga hit out at Mr Tsvangirai again saying, “the position and decision of the first respondent of violating the fifth respondent’s constitution portrays him as a person who cannot be trusted in handling and protecting the National Constitution where he will be wielding much state power. If the first respondent can abuse a political party constitution one shudders to imagine the extent to which he can go to abuse the National Constitution if he is elected President of Zimbabwe.”
He said the MDC-T preaches adherence to the constitution at all times, be it party or National Constitution.
Mr Murimoga argues that Mr Tsvangirai failed to uphold the MDC-T constitution.
“I have also read the agenda of the national council and I noticed that there was never an agenda to appoint deputy presidents and I am reliably advised there was never a resolution to appoint deputy presidents as what first respondent purported to do. Even if there was such an agenda, such resolution, both would be in violation of the fifth respondent’s constitution and therefore null and void.”
Mr Murimoga’s application was supported by Mr George Rice, an MDC-T provincial executive member.
Mr Murimoga and Mr Rice wantsthe court to pronounce the appointment of Adv Chamisa and Eng Mudzuri null and void.
They also want the court to declare the appointment in violation of the MDC-T constitution.
Mugiya and Macharaga Law Chambers filed the application at the High Court on behalf of Mr Murimoga and Mr Rice.