A last-gasp attempt to stop the Zapu elective congress from going ahead fell apart on Saturday morning after six parts members who had filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court on Friday evening withdrew their application.
The six applicants, Matthew Sibanda, Ernest Ndlovu, Mildred Mkandla, Ackim Nkala, Gideon Dlamini and Francis Ndlovu had cited the opposition party as the first respondent and Sibangilizwe Nkomo as the second respondent.
Nkomo is one of the candidates vying for the party presidency and is tipped to be the firm favourite to land the post.
However, the court challenge was later withdrawn Saturday morning after the applicants held talks with the party representative and Nkomo.
The withdrawal of the application means the congress continues and voting set for this afternoon will go as planned.
This is the first time since ZAPU’s inception, where party members are contesting for presidency in an open floor, as previous party leaders were selected by acclamation or through unanimous decisions and as expected, with multiple candidates, emotions are high.
The six applicants were represented by Liberty Mcijo from Liberty Mcijo and Associates when the urgent chamber application was heard by High Court Judge Justice Christopher Dube Banda, who granted the withdrawal.
After the withdrawal, Nqobani Sithole from Ncube Attorneys, representing Zapu in the case said the parties had a discussion with the applicants’ lawyer and Nkomo’s representative who agreed that there were certain issues that had to be attended to internally in the party.
“We hope the better placed candidate wins today.”
Nkomo’s legal counsel, Prince Bhutshe from Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, said despite receiving the court application Friday night, they still managed to defend their client well.
“We were only able to see our client this morning but we were, however, able to prepare, defend and challenge the application from the six applicants. We looked at the number of issues that we wanted to raise as preliminary points and after engaging representatives of the applicants, they conceded that they did not have a strong case and that the case was likely to fail as it was flawed,” he said.
“So eventually they agreed to withdraw the matter and the judge granted the withdrawal.”
In an interview with CITE, one of the applicants, Ndlovu, said their case was aimed at making Zapu adhere to constitutionalism, policy and procedures of the party.
“During our meeting with the respondents, we all realised that we must be united, go back to the congress and see who will win. whoever wins or loses, we will forge a way ahead and be strong then Zapu will emerge stronger than ever,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Nkomo, Mthulisi Hanana, Secretary for Administration in the Sibangilizwe Nkomo campaign, criticised the move to go to court, describing it as an attempt to subvert the will of people who wanted to vote in the Zapu congress.
“Some members of the party wanted to divert the will of the people, they wanted to capture the party using the courts. But we are grateful today, that the courts have made the right decision. They have made sure that people in Zapu will express their will undeterred, without fear,” he said.
“This is what Zapu fought for so that our people will be able to vote for the leaders that they want. Today we have a victory and that victory is not only for Nkomo, not only for his camp. It is a victory for Zapu, the people of Zimbabwe. It is a victory for justice in Zimbabwe.”
Hanana said Nkomo’s team was ready to make sure that he became the next president.
“The few people that wanted to disrupt the process are just a few individuals, the majority of people in Zapu are firmly and strongly behind Cde Nkomo. According to our constitution, those that take the party to court have consequences, which we are going to discuss as enshrined in the constitution,” he stated.