Zimbabwe’s parliament has gone to court to demand back vehicles issued to 19 former MDC Alliance MPs and Senators who were controversially expelled by the MDC-T party.
Also being sued with the MDC Alliance 19 is Zanu-PF’s Killer Zivhu, who was expelled by the party and recalled from his Chivi South constituency. Zivhu received a Toyota Fortuner from parliament.
In summons now before the High Court, parliament says each vehicle costs US$50,000.
The MDC Alliance’s former MPs and Senators facing withdrawal of vehicles are Eric Murai, Highfields East; Wellington Chikombo, Glen Norah; Ethenrige Kureva, Epworth; Dorcas Sibanda, proportional representation (PR) Bulawayo; Caston Matewu, Marondera Central; Lynette Karenyi-Kore, PR Manicaland; Concelia Chinanzvavana PR Mashonaland West; Susan Matsunga, Mufakose; Prince Dubeko Sibanda Binga North, Vunganayi Tarusenga, St Mary’s; Meliwe Puthi; Nomathemba Ndlovu; Bacili Magaya; Annah Muyambo; Happymore Chidziva; Sinampande Herbert Madolo; Virginia Mutadzika; Tapfumanei Unganai and Amos Chibaya.
It is not clear if the list is exhaustive. The MDC Alliance says the MDC-T recalled a total of 31 MPs and Senators and over 45 councilors including four mayors.
Parliament says none of the defendants had paid a penny towards the vehicles which are issued to MPs under a loan facility. Historically, few if any MPs ever paid back the loans.
“On or about July 24, 2019, Andrew at Hàrare, the plaintiff and the defendant entered into a vehicle Loan Facility Agreement in terms of which the plaintiff lent and advanced to the defendant a sum of US$50,000 for the purchase of a motor vehicle,” wrote Chihambakwe and Mutizwa Legal Practitioners who are representing parliament.
“The disbursement of the loan would be made directly by the plaintiff to the seller or dealer of the vehicle. The motor vehicle would be used solely for Parliament business.”
According to the lawyers, parliament agreed with the MPs and senators that loan repayments would be made through stop orders against their parliamentary salaries and allowances.
As security for the loan, the lawmakers would pledge ownership of the vehicles until full payment of the loan. They also agreed that the agreement would be terminated if the defendants ceased to be legislators before the expiry of their term, and parliament would be entitled to claim ownership or full payment for the vehicle.
Court papers show that the parties also agreed that the defendants would settle legal costs and any expenses that may arise in the recovery process.
At the time of termination of the agreement, parliament says none of the lawmakers had made any repayments.
“By reason of the said termination of the agreement, the defendant is obliged to return the motor vehicle to the plaintiff or to pay the outstanding loan in the sum of US$50,000 or the equivalent in Zimbabwe dollars using the official or auction rate obtaining on the date of payment,” the summons issued individually say.
“Despite demand, the defendant have failed, neglected or refused to return the motor vehicle or pay the aforementioned sum.”
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai died in February 2018 sparking intense jostling to replace him between his three deputies – Thokozani Khupe, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri.
Chamisa engineered a vote of the MDC-T’s National Council which gave him interim leadership, but Khupe boycotted.
Chamisa led a coalition of parties into elections in July that year, while Khupe kept the MDC-T name and ran as a rival.
The MDC Alliance secured over 100 seats in parliament while the MDC-T got two, and Chamisa ran President Emmerson Mnangagwa close with over 2.2 million votes compared to Khupe’s 45,000.
The Supreme Court in March this year ruled that Tsvangirai broke the MDC-T constitution when he appointed Mudzuri and Chamisa as his co-deputies in 2016, and therefore the MDC-T had only one vice president at the time of Tsvangirai’s death – Khupe – who should have gone on to assume the position of interim leader before an extraordinary congress to elect new leadership.
The court also directed that Khupe should take interim charge of the MDC-T until that congress, and that the party structures that existed at the last congress in 2014 should be re-instated. Khupe lost to Douglas Mwonzora at the congress which Chamisa did not attend.
Chamisa maintains that his party is the MDC Alliance and not the MDC-T, but this has not stopped the MDC-T from seeking to take control of the Alliance, including appropriating its elected officials, offices and finances due to the party from the government based on its electoral performance.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has suspended by-elections to fill up some of the vacant seats citing health concerns over the coronavirus, but the MDC Alliance says the electoral body is in a conspiracy with Zanu-PF and the MDC-T to delay it from claiming back its seats.