MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday endorsed Bulawayo deputy mayor, Gift Banda as the party’s substantive provincial chairperson despite a High Court ruling barring the latter from assuming the post.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
MDC-T Bulawayo offices were early yesterday morning, ahead of Tsvangirai’s visit, sprayed with graffiti denouncing Banda as a “Mafikizolo” who did not deserve the post of provincial chairperson.
Tsvangirai was in Bulawayo to meet party structures and also to announce Banda as the substantive chairperson of the province despite a court battle pitting the Bulawayo deputy mayor and his opponents over the post. Banda confirmed to The Standard that Tsvangirai had endorsed him as the substantive chairperson.
“I am now the legitimate chairperson of Bulawayo province,” Banda said in a telephone interview. He did not comment further.
Banda was ordered to step down by the High Court in November last year on grounds that his election to the post during the party’s provincial congress was irregular and unconstitutional.
This followed a High Court application by Senator Matson Hlalo who sought an interdict barring Banda from assuming the post, citing violence, vote-buying and reports of ballot-stuffing.
Hlalo had also argued that Banda did not meet guidelines set by the party on the election of office bearers, saying his election was therefore unconstitutional.
High Court Judge Justice Maxwell Takuva in his ruling said Banda did not qualify to be a candidate for the MDC-T’s Bulawayo provincial chairmanship in terms of the party’s constitution. He ordered the party to conduct fresh elections using the properly constituted structures.
However, no fresh elections were held.
Instead, Banda’s deputy, Bulawayo Central MP Dorcas Sibanda became the interim chairperson, only to be kicked out in March on charges of creating parallel structures, causing confusion and hatred among party members.
The post has been vacant since then amid reports that Banda had, with the blessing of the party’s top leadership, continued to act as the substantive provincial chairperson.
This resulted in Hlalo approaching the High Court in April suing national organsing secretary, Abednico Bhebhe and Banda, for defying a court ruling barring the latter from masquerading as the provincial chairperson.