Fidelis Munyoro/Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporters
THE MDC-T factions led by Dr Thokozani Khupe and Advocate Nelson Chamisa will continue using the same party name, symbol and logo until the High Court determines the legitimate successor to the late Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
Supreme Court judge Justice Paddington Garwe, sitting with Justices Mary Anne Gowora and Antonia Guvava, referred the matter back to the High Court for determination on who is the legitimate party leader.
The Chamisa-led MDC-T faction had appealed the High Court decision allowing Dr Khupe and her followers to use the opposition party’s logo and emblem.
Justice Garwe partially allowed the appeal but temporarily placed Dr Khupe and Mr Chamisa on an equal footing pending a full trial by the High Court to establish the true leader.
Rowdy MDC-T thugs could be heard singing and chanting slogans outside the Supreme Court in Harare disrupting the court proceedings.
Some got to the extent of hitting the doors to the courtroom, a development that called for the intervention of the police reaction group.
Riot police were quickly called to maintain peace and to prevent the violent group from further disrupting the court session.
The MDC-T supporters, who were dressed in party regalia, also interferred with traffic along Samora Machel Avenue.
Some party members bussed from high density suburbs to cause chaos at the court were dropped right in the middle of the road causing a serious traffic jam along Samora Machel around midday.
In their ruling the Supreme Court judges said: “It is ordered by consent that:
(1) The appeal be and is hereby allowed with no order as to costs.
(2) The judgment of the court a quo is hereby set aside and in its place, the following is substituted:
i) the application for this matter to be dealt with on an urgent basis is granted.
ii) In view of the material disputes of tact afflicting the application, it is ordered that the application be referred to trial for the resolution of the following disputes:
a) Whether or not there are two MDC-T parties
b) If not, whether the respondents are entitled to the use of the name, symbol, logo and trademarks of the MDC-T…”
The Supreme Court directed the parties to file their papers for the High Court case within 10 days to ensure the matter is heard on an urgent basis.
The ruling means the two will continue holding themselves out as MDC-T parties pending determination of the main dispute by the High Court.
The High Court will hear the matter on the merits and hear evidence from witnesses whenever necessary.
Adv Thabani Mpofu appeared for Mr Chamisa who is the applicant in the appeal while Professor Lovemore Madhuku represented the respondents Dr Khupe, Messrs Obert Gutu and Abednico Bhebhe.
Mr Chamisa and Dr Khupe are locked in an acrimonious power struggle sparked by the death of founding party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai in February this year.
The Chamisa camp filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the High Court decision refusing to bar Dr Khupe’s formation from using the same party name, trademark, signs and symbols.
The High Court in Bulawayo recently ruled that an urgent application filed by the Chamisa-led faction was not urgent.
Justice Bere (now with the Supreme Court), who presided over the matter, also ruled that nothing stopped Dr Khupe from running her formation under the MDC-T name.
The Chamisa-led MDC-T faction in the appeal wanted the Supreme Court to set aside the High Court decision.
It also wants the dispute heard afresh before a different judge.
In its grounds of appeal filed at the Supreme Court, the Chamisa faction argues that the lower court erred in making pronouncements on substantive issues not before it, and on which the parties had advanced no argument.
The court, according to the camp, erred in coming to the conclusion that the appellant had not instituted the proceedings before it.
The decision, it argued, was made without having any regard to appellant’s constitutive documents and/or operational statutes.