The Bulawayo branch of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Nelson Chamisa has been granted a provisional order to use local offices, which were occupied by a faction of the party led by deputy president Thokozani Khupe.
The High Court’s order follows recent clashes at the provincial offices between the two factions in which some MDC-T activists, including Khupe’s aide Witness Dube, were seriously injured.
Professor Welshman Ncube, who is the leader of another formation of the MDC and one of the principals of the MDC Alliance, represented the MDC provincial leadership.
In a statement, the MDC-T led by Chamisa said it was pleased with the outcome of the court, noting that the offices were being illegally occupied by Khupe and her followers.
“The MDC-T Bulawayo province was today granted a provisional order by the High Court to take back control of their party offices which had been seized by force by the MDC-T deputy President Thokozani Khupe and her 8 followers last week, through their lawyer Professor Welshman Ncube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, who is also the MDC president.
“The same law firm was also instrumental in successfully getting bail for the 15 MDC-T Provincial members who were falsely accused of inciting violence during the clashes at the party offices last week.”
The provisional order instructs the respondents, Khupe and her eight followers to immediately vacate the MDC-T Bulawayo provincial offices, which they had seized by force and hand back control of the building to the provincial chairperson Gift Banda (applicant).
The order decreed that the actions by Khupe and her group of forcibly taking over the party offices were unlawful. They were ordered not to interfere with the provincial chairman’s occupation of the office or disturb meetings, activities or programmes or vandalise any property which is in that office.
Defiance of this directive by the respondents will result in the immediate arrest and prosecution of Khupe and her group.
Reacting to the court verdict in a letter signed by Witness Dube, the Khupe group noted that “the purported eviction of MDC-T acting president from the Bulawayo Provincial Office, through a High Court ‘spoliation order’, is a grossly misleading piece of information. Hon. Dr. Khupe’s opposing affidavit to the order that was sought by Bulawayo Provincial Chairperson was expressly for the purpose of challenging the false allegations which Councillor (Gift) Banda (MDC-T provincial chairperson) had stated in his founding affidavit.
“The MDC-T Bulawayo Provincial Office was and must always remain accessible to all members of the party regardless of differences in points of view and opinion. It comes as no surprise therefore that the enemies of constitutionalism, democracy, rule of law, and freedom of speech and association are making every effort to disturb this meeting. Hon. Dr Khupe wishes to advise all members and supporters to remain calm, resolute, and focused to finishing strong.”
Khupe and Chamisa have been fighting over the control of the party following the death of Morgan Tsvangirai a month ago. Chamisa has been endorsed by all organs of the party as the president and MDC Alliance presidential candidate for the forthcoming election.