Legal challenge for Prof Welshman Ncube

HARARE - Prof Welshman Ncube has scoffed at the legal challenge to his presidency from 13 members of his party who have lodged an application in the High Court seeking to invalidate his January 8 congress and all elected officials.

“The party is again dismayed though not surprised by the act of desperation from our former comrades that were rejected by the people in our recent congress,” a spokesman for his MDC party said in a statement. “While we believe that every person has a right to be heard in any court of law, we believe that this action not only demonstrates a shallow understanding of the democratic principles but is also total contempt of the courts.”

The 13 disgruntled members, led by former national chairman Joubert Mudzumwe want the High Court to invalidate the congress that enthroned Ncube to the presidency of that party. If the High Court grants the declaratory order, it could mark an inglorious exit of the law professor from the helm of the party, hardly two weeks after taking the reins from Prof Arthur Mutambara, who graciously stepped down after a vote of no confidence. But the spokesman said the legal challenge would be “dismissed with the contempt it deserves.”

The application, lodged by Mudzumwe, national council members Tsitsi Dangarembgwa, Constantine Chipadza, Morgan Changamire among other MDC M members, says the congress infringed dictates of the party Constitution. The founding affidavit, filed by their lawyer Obey Shava of Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni, claims Ncube rigged the congress by failing to notify all provinces and proceeded with the gathering without complying with his own party Constitution. The dissidents say some of the provinces came to know about the congress through the Press.

I submit that despite the above mandatory provision, not every district received the required notice,” the application says. “The

district of Chitungwiza North, Chegutu among others only got to know about the congress in print media and never received any notice from the second respondent (Ncube). In violation of the provision, the second respondent convened the MDC third congress without receiving nominations from all provinces. For example, Masvingo did not submit its nominations at all. But the spokesman responded: “For the avoidance of doubt the Masvingo province was well represented in the congress and sat on the 7th of January to make their nominations, cadres from the Chegutu district were also among other districts from throughout the country, this is matter of public record.”

The application claimed the convenor of the congress violated the Constitution, which they said bestows the right to convene the

congress on the national chairman. They protested that Ncube’s MDC congress was convened by the organising secretary. The application further said Ncube failed to notify all national executive members as the party charter says about the nominees from the party’s 12 provinces.

The election was conducted by the organising secretary despite that he had no constitutional mandate to do so,” Mudzumwe says in his court papers. “The congress became invalidated and any post created or act done in terms of that congress is of no force and effect and should be declared as such by this court, he said adding the High Court must clip second respondent wings and remind him how to respect his own constitution.

The spokesman for Ncube’s party said: “These thirteen bad losers should be dismissed as rejected politicians who will not even survive an election in their own homes as they failed to get even a single vote and amazingly today seek to reverse a decision of 4,320 members who expressed their support for President Welshman Ncube and other progressive democrats.”

Ncube’s party accused the rebels of being a “bunch of tribalists who think they can hold the party at ransom.” “Joubert Mdzumwe and his handful of failed politicians in their feeble minds thought by walking out of the National Council they will stop the party from holding the congress, the message is clear that the party is bigger than individuals, the democratic train is unstoppable, we will prevail.

Mudzumwe must have known better that the National Council has the powers of the congress to appoint anyone to any capacity.”

Mudzumwe and his loyalists walked out of a National Council meeting held on the eve of the congress saying they were piqued by what they claimed to be machinations by Ncube to oust Mutambara. The dissidents are apparently insecure with a Ndebele leading their party, various party sources say.

“These bunch of tribalists who try to use ethnicity to divide our party and the people of Zimbabwe should just shut-up and enjoy their thirty-pieces of silver. We are aware that they are now being controlled and funded by our detractors both old and new,” the

spokesman said. “The attempt to soil the name of President Ncube will not succeed as it is public knowledge that the President understanding of law is legendary both in teaching and practice. We are confident that this case will be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.

“We would like to put it on record that our congress was not only a resounding success but also historic, setting a precedent that has shocked the institutions of dictatorship and pseudo democrats to the core.”

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