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Ousted Zimbabwe Opposition Women's Leader Seeks Judicial Relief

The ousted women’s assembly chairwoman for the faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, Lucia Matibenga, has asked the Harare high court to bar Tsvangirai and his faction from holding an extraordinary congress on Sunday to choose her successor.

Representatives of Matibenga served Tsvangirai and other top faction officials Monday with papers saying they had failed to respect the constitution of the party in dissolving the women’s assembly on October 6.

"The Women's Assembly Constitution, clause 622, says any changes in the make up of the Women's Assembly (which has more than half of all the MDC members) shall only occur after an extraordinary congress either by the National Council of the party or the National Council of the Women," Matibenga argues in her court papers.

But party insiders told VOA that the stunned party leadership refused to sign the court papers served on them Monday.

Matibenga is also challenging the selection of delegates to the congress, saying only 230 women out of some 3,0000 members have been invited.

"Composition of delegates to the extraordinary congress on October 28 is being limited to provincial and district structures although it should go down to ward level, instead of 3,000 delegates entitled to vote only 230 people have been invited," Matibenga argues in her court papers.

Faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa declined to comment other than to say that he he believes the dispute can be resolved internally.

Matibenga refused to comment, but MDC insiders say she has been snubbed by the leadership which has not informed her where the congress will be held though officials have said that she will be free to seek re-election as chairwoman.

Lawyer and analyst Theresa Mugadza told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such reported treatment of Matibenga comes as no surprise as party officials have shown the want to "edge her out by whatever means necessary."

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...