Magaisa weighs in on MDC Supreme Court ruling

Kent University law lecturer, Dr Alex Magaisa, dissects the Supreme Court judgment concerning a longstanding legal wrangle over the leadership of the MDC-T.

By Alex Magaisa

Dr Alex Magaisa, law lecturer and blogger at The Big Saturday Read.

This week, the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe delivered a judgment concerning a longstanding legal wrangle over the leadership of the MDC-T. There were two substantive issues. The first major issue was whether appointments of deputy presidents made by the founding President of the MDC-T, Morgan Tsvangirai in 2016 were lawful. The second concerned the legality of Nelson Chamisa’s rise to the Acting Presidency of the MDC-T in February 2018.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court that there were illegalities in both instances. The court determined that the MDC-T should revert to the pre-2016 appointments position, literally turning back the hands of time. It also ordered that the MDC-T should hold an Extraordinary Congress within 3 months from the date of the judgment. The decision has sparked heated debate and concern regarding its consequences for opposition politics. This article analyses the judgment and its implications.

Whose tortoise was it?

It is important to briefly set out the timeline of events to provide context for the analysis. In 2016, the then leader of the MDC-T, Morgan Tsvangirai appointed two deputy presidents, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri. This created a triumvirate of deputy presidents. Thokozani Khupe had been elected as deputy president at Congress in 2014. The appointments were controversial. However, while Khupe and others were unhappy with the turn of events, they did not mount a legal challenge. 

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