ZIMBABWE – MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is in contempt of a High Court order after declaring Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda ‘bonafide’ provincial party chairperson. Godfrey Nyoni, a lawyer representing former provincial chairman aspirant, Matson Hlalo, said Tsvangirai was in contempt of the court.
The High Court in October last year, issued a provisional order, interdicting Banda from taking up the chairmanship. Hlalo had launched a court action following the party’s controversial provincial congress ahead of the national one in the same month. The same court in November passed a default judgement declaring Hlalo the bonafide Bulawayo provincial chairperson after Banda and the MDC-T failed to file opposing papers to Hlalo’s action.
However, on August 25 the MDC-T successfully applied for the rescission of the default judgement and Banda and the party was allowed to file opposing papers in the case. Addressing journalists in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Tsvangirai said of the Banda-Hlalo debacle, “What I know internally is that when the issue of Matson Hlalo’s challenge in court with regards to the legitimacy of the deputy mayor who is the provincial chairman, is that we instituted what we call the arbiter general’s investigation who came here, investigated and produced a report and the facts of the challenge about the legitimacy of Banda as chairman were not proven.
“In other words, Banda legitimately contested an election and he’s the chairman of the province. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind, it was discussed by the national executive, and the facts speak for themselves. “Now, what happens to Matson Hlalo? He will have to withdraw his challenge because it wasn’t a challenge,” said Tsvangirai.
However, Nyoni on Friday said Tsvangirai was in contempt of court as the initial provisional order interdicting Banda from occupying the chairmanship was still in effect. “They’re definitely in contempt of court. “The interesting part is that they made the declaration way before the rescission of the final judgement was made and one wonders how a party that wants to formulate policies would act in such breach of the law,” said Nyoni.
“My client is disturbed by that action. He hasn’t instructed me to withdraw the case and you can’t act against the court on the assumption that one will withdraw the case. “That is not a basis. You have to obey the law and the court order for as long as that order is valid.” Nyoni, who said they have already filed a contempt of court complaint with the courts, said they would raise the matter again when the matter is tried.