High Court douses Chamisa flame

THE war over the use of the MDC-T name and logo between party president, Nelson Chamisa and former deputy president, Thokozani Khupe took a new twist yesterday, after High Court judge, Justice Francis Bere ruled that the two parties should approach an arbitration court for a determination on the matter.

BY SILAS NKALA

Justice Bere said it was not clear which MDC-T was the legitimate one between the Chamisa and the Khupe-led factions.

He said the argument can only be resolved through arbitration.

Justice Bere’s ruling came after the Chamisa-led MDC-T, represented by acting chairperson, Morgen Komichi filed an urgent application seeking to bar Khupe and her allies from using the party’s trademark, symbols and signs.

Chamisa’s camp was represented by lawyers, Josphat Tshuma and Lucas Nkomo, while Khupe, former national organiser, Abednico Bhebhe and former party spokesperson, Obert Gutu, who were represented by Lovemore Madhuku, were cited as respondents.

“It is not clear as to which MDC-T is the correct one and I cannot make a determination on the matter. This can only be made by an arbitration court,” Justice Bere ruled.
After the judgment was delivered, Komichi’s lawyer, Nkomo said they were disappointed by the ruling, adding they would study the judgment before lodging an appeal at a higher court.

“We are very disappointed by the ruling and we are going to study the judgment and see how we can appeal further to the other highest court,” he said.

“The court has all the documents that clearly show which is which, but we were taken by surprise when the same court said it is not clear which MDC is the correct one.”
In the application, Komichi was seeking an order interdicting Khupe and others from “unlawfully” using the party’s name in their political agenda.

In his founding affidavit, Komichi had submitted that Khupe and others were dismissed as members and office bearers of the opposition party on March 23, 2018, and they had no reason to use the party’s name and logo.

Komichi had argued that Khupe and her allies were causing confusion and misleading MDC-T followers by continuing to use the party trademark, symbols and signs.

He further said notwithstanding the dismissal, which effectively terminated their memberships, they had continued to present themselves as not only MDC-T members, but office bearers, thereby, causing confusion amongst party supporters.

Komichi also accused Khupe of masquerading as the MDC-T leader and the party’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections.

However, Khupe insisted she was the MDC-T acting president, a position she assumed by operation of law in terms of article 9.21.1 of the party’s constitution following the death of Morgan Tsvangirai on February 14 this year.

Madhuku had argued that Chamisa’s faction was supposed to give the court the party constitution to buttress his argument and that the reason for not doing so was because they knew Khupe and others were aware of its contents.

In her founding affidavit, Khupe had said she was concerned that Chamisa imposed himself and sought to consolidate his coup détat efforts by refusing to follow the dictates of the constitution, adding her group was the genuine MDC-T.