CCC recalls: Judgment reserved

Tshabangu said the recalled members had ceased to belong to the CCC, but the legislators disowned him saying he is a Zanu PF impostor.

HIGH Court judge Justice Munamato Mutevedzi yesterday reserved judgment in a case where 15 former Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators are challenging their recall from Parliament.

The 15 were recalled by Sengezo Tshabangu who claims to be the party’s interim secretary-general.

Tshabangu said the recalled members had ceased to belong to the CCC, but the legislators disowned him saying he is a Zanu PF impostor.

The by-elections will be held on December 9.

The CCC MPs are seeking an interdict against Tshabangu and those acting through him from interfering in party’s activities.

They said Tshabangu's letter recalling them from Parliament was an act of fraud.

“Tshabangu is not a member of the political party and has nothing to do with internal affairs, this is common cause,” they submitted through their lawyer Advocate Amanda Shanice Ndlovu.

“Tshabangu has not denied factual elements, so where there is common cause that applicants were members of CCC and that Tshabangu had no authority to act on behalf of CCC, that leaves nothing to be debated before this honourable court.

“Tshabangu has failed to show on what authority does he act on and on what basis?.”

She said Tshabangu had no legal basis to recall the MPs.

“The membership of the applicants is an issue of common cause. It is not disputed that they were elected as MPs, which leaves an onus on Tshabangu to prove his case,” Ndlovu said.

Human right lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is also representing the CCC MPs said the actions of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, in the case were questionable.

“The Speaker ought not to have filed opposing papers. We suit that the actions of the Speaker were improper. Without engaging Parliament, they announced the expulsion of the applicants," Muchadehama said.

Advocate Lewis Uriri representing Tshabangu, however, argued that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Uriri said the matter was supposed to be heard at the Constitutional Court.

“If we assume they are right, it means that Parliament has failed to observe (its) constitutional obligation. What they seek, therefore, is a finding that Parliament has violated a constitutional provision,” Uriri said. “The Speaker is not concerned with the inner issues of a political party but he is obligated to receive a letter. When he receives it, he is allowed to act in the manner he did and this is what he did. He is the Speaker and so his conduct was correct.

“Once the Speaker has acted in terms of section 129, there is a result and that result is that the seat is vacated and that seat can only be refilled either by a by-election or Speaker’s decision is set aside by a proceeding relevant to it.”

He also questioned why the MPs failed to cite the CCC as a respondent.

“The applicants are not members because they were expelled. It is admitted that CCC is a political party. The applicants know Tshabangu is a designated officer.

“This confirms the applicants have not made their case. We are okay that this case be struck or be dismissed with costs.”

In a related matter, Mutevedzi also dismissed an application filed by the Media Institute of Southern Africa and Technomag (PVT) Limited seeking to have the matter broadcast live.

The judge said the matter was not urgent and struck it off the roll.

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