Harare, (New Ziana) – New leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Douglas Mwonzora was lawfully elected at the party’s recent congress, a law expert said on Wednesday.
The extraordinary congress, held on Monday, was ordered by the Supreme Court after striking down Nelson Chamisa’s illegal accension to the party’s presidency following the death of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
But the congress, convened to elect new leaders of the party, was marred by violence and allegations of vote-buying and fraud.
Interim leader, Thokozani Khupe, one of four vying for the presidential job, accused Mwonzora of electoral fraud, and declared his election null and void.
She also cancelled the congress, a position later endorsed by other top leaders of the party.
But in an opinion piece to the party, constitutional lawyer and University of Zimbabwe law lecturer, Prof. Lovemore
Madhuku said Khupe’s cancellation of the congress, and declaration of Mwonzora’s election null and void, was itself null and void at law.
He said Khupe ceased to wield leadership powers once she entered the fray as presidential candidate, and any exercise of such powers was not only conflicted, but also illegal at law.
“As soon as the voting process began under the direction of the independent electoral body, the acting President (Khupe) became a candidate in the election of the President. Therefore, she could neither cancel the extraordinary congress nor suspend the Secretary General (Mwonzora) who was also a candidate in the same election,” Prof. Madhuku said.
“It is now settled in law that an office holder who is conflicted cannot exercise any of the powers that attach to the particular office to the extent to which the exercise of that power would involve a conflict of interest,” he added.
Prof. Madhuku said only the independent electoral body that conducted the elections or a competent court, could nullify the congress or its outcome.
Mwonzora, who has since appointed Khupe and another losing presidential candidate Elias Mudzuri as his two deputies, has denied corruptly securing the presidential job.
“The presumption of validity means that unless set aside by a competent court, Douglas Mwonzora is duly elected as President,” Prof. Madhuku, a former lawyer for Khupe, said.