Sibangilizwe Nkomo faces leadership challenge

Fissures continue to widen in  ZAPU as some members are seeking to overturn the results of last year’s congress that ushered in a new leadership led by Sibangilizwe Nkomo.

The group want the nomination and subsequent election of Nkomo, son of the late nationalist and ZAPU founding father, Joshua Nkomo, to be set aside, and an extraordinary congress must be held within three months to elect a new party president.

Over the weekend, ZAPU Secretary General, Mthulisi Hanana, wrote to the party’s National Legal Secretary, the Presidency, National Executive Council, Regional Directors and Provincial Executive Councils informing them that five party members who attempted to stop congress last year, have once again taken the party to court.

The five party members are Matthew Sibanda, Echem Nkala, Gideon Dlamini, Ernest Ndlovu and Mildred Mkandla who filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court a day before the congress was slated.

In their High Court application last year, they argued that Nkomo had not been a party member for at least five years and was disqualified from contesting for the presidency.

They later withdrew their court application, which saw Nkomo elected president after the congress proceeded.

But the battle for the party leadership seems far from over judging by the latest summons.

In his letter, Hanana said Sibanda, Nkala, Dlamini, Ndlovu and Mkandla have once again petitioned the courts seeking the following:

“An order declaring Section 8:19 of the ZAPU constitution to be in contravention of their right to fair, speedy and public hearing within a reasonable time as provided for in Section69 (2) of the constitution of Zimbabwe and should be declared unconstitutional.”

Hanana said the five sought to overturn the 2020 congress results.

“They seek an order declaring the nomination and subsequent election of Nkomo to be null, void and set aside,” he wrote.

“Consequently that ZAPU, President Nkomo and Vice president, (Derrick) Katsenga be ordered to convene an Extra-ordinary congress within three months from the date of the order to elect a new president on the basis of the qualifications for nominations of a presidential candidate set out in the National People’s Council resolution of July 11, 2022 as it applied as at June 12, 2021.”

The petition also sought that ZAPU and its president, are to “pay the costs of the legal action on a higher scale.”

“As previously indicated, the party will defend itself. We ask that ZAPU do everything reasonably possible to remain calm, steadfast and resolute as we allow this process to unfold,” Hanana said.

Asked for a comment, one of the five petitioners, Sibanda, said he would comment later after a meeting with his colleagues.

ZAPU National Spokesperson, Msongelwa Ndlovu said they strongly believed external forces were controlling this conflict between members of the party.

“These external forces are fronted by individuals in the party even at a very senior level. It will come out and we believe the party has been infiltrated and they have used outcomes of congress and put a wedge between leadership but I think soon will be exposed,” he told CITE in an interview.

Ndlovu noted the contestation was a sign of democracy at work.

“The leadership of the party will decide the next course of action as a collective. But what is beyond any doubt and what our members must know is that the party is under attack from both external and internal forces who are not happy with the progress this administration is making,” said the spokesperson.

“These forces, whose behaviour is hopelessly pugnacious, cantankerous and curmudgeonly, will be dealt with soon and their masters exposed as the owners of the party move to defend their organisation.”

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