VULTURES are circling over MDC-T acting president Thokozani Khupe with insiders saying there is a plot to oust her by end of this month after she failed to convene an extraordinary congress (EOC) within the three months as ordered by the Supreme Court in March.
Highly-placed sources said there was a plot by party bigwigs to hand over the party leadership to interim chairperson Morgen Komichi in July in the event that Khupe fails to convene the congress.
The development came after the MDC-T was at the weekend forced to revise the congress date from September 4 to July 31.
A camp supporting secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said Khupe had attempted to breach the Supreme Court ruling that gave her control of the opposition party.
Lawyers, who are part of the MDC-T, said failure by Khupe to hold an EOC by June 30 meant she now loses her powers to legally convene constitutional meetings, leaving Komichi in charge.
Komichi has 30 days to convene the meeting to elect the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s successor.
“On Tuesday (today), the date is June 30. It will be 90 days after the Supreme Court ordered Khupe to convene an MDC-T EOC and she has failed to do so.
“Attempts to hide behind the Supreme Court practice direction will not hold. It is not applicable as it only affects time count to the court. This means court processes of matters still pending before the court and not those already decided,” a lawyer said.
He said Khupe can’t claim practice directive when she has been benefiting from the effects of the Supreme Court ruling from the day it was issued.
“You can’t have a selective effect of the judgment because Khupe has been acting president of the MDC-T for the past three months owing to that ruling and she wants to conveniently say the practice directive suspends the implementation of the judgment only as far as holding congress is concerned yet she is implementing all other parts of the judgment,” he said.
Law lecturer, Valentine Mutatu said Khupe’s team was wrong in the reading of the practice directive, adding that if she failed to hold the EOC by June 30, she would lose control of the elective processes to Komichi.
“The practice direction was specific on the issues it covered. At law, there is a practice we use, that is, the exclusive mention of issues is the exclusive exception of other issues.
“In this case, the practice directive by the Chief Justice exclusively mentioned the judgments that were suspended, which were in line with government policy on rentals and sales and not the judgment as issued by the Supreme Court,” he said.
Mwonzora, during a standing committee meeting two weeks ago warned that failure to convene an EOC within three months would expose the party to lawsuits which could be disastrous.
“The Supreme Court sets clear deadlines for this event,” Mwonzora said.
“We have developed the roadmap to the congress. The correct interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment means that the congress must be held by July 31. Any extensions outside the timelines given by the Supreme Court can expose us to unnecessary legal challenges,” Mwonzora told the meeting.
MDC-T deputy spokesperson Khalipani Phugeni, however, insisted that Khupe remained in charge and was within the correct interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling because of the practice directive issued by Chief Justice Malaba.
Social media platforms have started campaigning for Mwonzora to take over from Khupe, while former vicepresident Elias Mudzuri is also campaigning for the top post.