MDC-T Senator Matson Hlalo has defied party leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s calls for him to withdraw his court action in the battle for the Bulawayo provincial chairperson’s post against city deputy mayor Gift Banda. Tsvangirai, addressing journalists last week, said Banda had been confirmed as Bulawayo provincial chairperson after the party’s internal process disproved Hlalo’s facts in challenging the deputy mayor’s election in a provincial congress last year.

“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’ll have to withdraw his challenge because it wasn’t a challenge,” Tsvangirai told journalists.

However, Hlalo’s lawyer Godfrey Nyoni said they had filed an application at the Supreme Court to overturn the August 25 High Court judgment rescinding a default judgment against the MDC-T and Banda. The High Court in October last year, in a provisional order, interdicted Banda from taking up the chairmanship after his rival Hlalo 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 judgment declaring Hlalo the bona fide Bulawayo provincial chairperson after Banda and the MDC-T failed to file opposition papers. However, on August 25 the MDC-T successfully applied for the rescission of the default judgment thereby allowing Banda and the party to file opposition papers.
“We’ve filed an application at the Supreme Court challenging the rescission of the default judgment,” said Nyoni. Responding to Tsvangirai’s sentiments last week, Nyoni said the MDC-T leader was in contempt of court by declaring Banda the “legitimate” chairperson while the matter was still before the courts.
“They’re definitely in contempt of court. The interesting part is that they made the declaration way before the rescission of the final judgment was made and one wonders how a party that wants to formulate policies would act in such breach of the law,” said Nyoni then. “My client is very disturbed by that action. He hasn’t instructed me to withdraw the case and you can’t act against the court ruling on the assumption that one will withdraw the case. That’s not a basis.”

Tsvangirai has often been sucked into fights within the faction riddled Bulawayo structures and during a provincial congress last year, he had to personally verify voters. chronicle

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