Saturday, 14 April 2018

MDC NAME FIGHT : JUDGE POSTPONES CASE

BULAWAYO High Court judge Justice Francis Bere yesterday postponed to April 17 the matter involving MDC-T rival camps fighting over the ownership of the party name and symbols.

The bitter wrangle involves two rival camps, one led by the opposition party’s president Advocate Nelson Chamisa and the other by the party’s expelled co-deputy president Dr Thokozani Khupe.

The postponement of the urgent chamber application filed by Adv Chamisa’s camp, through its lawyers Atherstone and Cook Legal Practitioners, follows a request by the Dr Khupe faction which sought to change lawyers.

The Adv Chamisa led MDC-T last month fired Dr Khupe together with her two allies Mr Abednigo Bhebhe and Mr Obert Gutu, following a national council meeting.

Prior to his dismissal, Mr Bhebhe was the party’s national organising secretary while Mr Gutu held the post of national party spokesperson.

MDC-T has been disintegrating following power struggles culminating from the death of its founding president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai on February 14 this year.

In papers before the court, Dr Khupe, Mr Bhebhe and Mr Gutu, were cited as respondents.
Adv Chamisa’s group is seeking an order interdicting the respondents from “unlawfully exploiting and abusing its registered MDC-T trademark, symbols and signs.”
In his founding affidavit, MDC-T acting chairperson Mr Morgen Komichi said the respondents were infringing on their registered trademark in pursuit of their political agenda by continuing to unlawfully exploit party symbols and signs despite their expulsion.

Mr Komichi said Dr Khupe and her allies were causing confusion and misleading MDC-T followers by continuing to use party trademark, symbols and signs.

Mr Komichi argued that they were the owner of the trademark, which the respondents are unlawfully exploiting, including the open palm slogan.

Mr Komichi accused Dr Khupe of portraying herself as the leader of the MDC-T and the party’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming harmonised elections.
Dr Khupe, in her opposing affidavit filed by her lawyers TJ Mabhikwa and Partners, insisted that she was the acting president of the MDC-T.

“I became acting president of MDC-T by operation of law in terms of Article 9.21.1 of the party constitution, upon the untimely death and sad passing on of our party leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai on 14 February 2018. Before I became acting president, I was the deputy president of the party having been elected by the congress in 2006, 2011 and 2014 as provided for in Article 6.44 of the party constitution,” she said.

Dr Khupe said her rivals whom she accused of purportedly acting on behalf of MDC-T, chose to defy her and walked away claiming they were party members.

She also accused Adv Chamisa of imposing himself and seeking to consolidate his “coup d’├ętat” efforts by refusing to follow the dictates of the party constitution.

Dr Khupe said her group was the genuine MDC-T and accused her rivals of being rebels bent on destroying the party and causing divisions ahead of the elections.
She said any possible confusion arising from the use of party names and symbols will be resolved in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

Mr Gutu and Mr Bhebhe, in their affidavits, concurred with Dr Khupe, saying she is the rightful, lawful, legitimate and constitutional acting president of the MDC-T until such a time that an extraordinary congress is held to elect a new substantive president of the party.

The latest development in the opposition party marks the third split of the original MDC, formed in 1999. Chronicle 

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