A BID by Thokozani Khupe’s MDC to challenge the High Court’s jurisdiction in presiding over cases brought by recalled legislators was yesterday thrown out.
Recalled MDC Alliance legislators Chalton Hwende, Prosper Mutseyami, Thabita Khumalo and Lilian Timveos approached the High Court after they were booted out of Parliament and their seats declared vacant.
They cited Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, MDC reinstated secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, acting president Thokozani Khupe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as respondents.
The matter was heard before High Court judge Justice Pisirai Kwenda, who ruled that the High Court had jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Lovemore Madhuku had yesterday submitted on behalf of the respondents that the matter could not take off in the High Court, arguing that the Constitution only mandated the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) to decide on any matters involving the President or Parliament.
“According to Section 167 of the Constitution, only the Con-Court has jurisdiction to determine whether a president or Parliament has failed to fulfil a constitutional mandate … this clearly shows that the applicants have approached the wrong court,” he said.
In response Tendai Biti, representing the legislators, said the Con-Court was relevant in confirming an order issued by the High Court, but did not take away its powers to preside over matters involving the president or Parliament.
“The only caveat is that the order has no force and effect unless confirmed by the Con-Court,” Biti said.
Biti then argued that Mwonzora did not have the authority to recall MDC Alliance MPs, adding that the Supreme Court judgment which declared Khupe the acting leader in March did not make them substantive leaders since they are yet to convene a congress for that purpose.
“The Supreme Court judgment gives a narrow bridge versus the succession issue, but now Mwonzora thinks he has powers. The judgment cannot be vandalised in the manner that Mwonzora is doing,” argued Biti.
“That judgment presupposes freezing of a button until someone fills the big shoes of the late leader Morgan Tsvangirai. So, when Mwonzora writes those letters he cannot derive paternity from that judgment.
“That judgment was to remedy the mischief of the manner in which Tsvangirai was succeeded.
“Mwonzora does not become the secretary-general, but is there for purposes of creating a road map to the congress.”
The matter continues on October 30.