Tshabangu versus Chamisa At Bulawayo High Court
9 March 2024
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In a deeply contested legal battle at the Bulawayo High Court, the intricacies of political alignments and leadership disputes within Zimbabwe’s Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) have come to the fore. At the heart of the dispute is Sengezo Tshabangu’s lawsuit against Nelson Chamisa, the former leader of CCC, over allegations of spoliation damages linked to the repainting and forcible takeover of the party’s provincial offices in Bulawayo.

The offices, known as the Gertrude Mthombeni House and located at Number 41 Fort Street, serve as a crucial hub for the CCC, housing essential provincial documents and serving as the venue for party activities and programs. The repainting from the party’s iconic yellow to blue signifies more than a mere change of aesthetics; it represents a potential shift in political allegiance towards a new movement reportedly led by Chamisa, despite his explicit denials of involvement in current political endeavors.

The lawsuit, presented before Justice David Mangota, pits Tshabangu, claiming the role of CCC’s Interim Secretary General, against Chamisa. Tshabangu’s legal representation, Nqobani Sithole, paints a vivid picture of a forceful occupation by individuals allegedly acting under Chamisa’s directive. This occupation involved not only changing the building’s color but also undertaking significant structural renovations—all purportedly without the consent of the CCC’s rightful leadership.

Tshabangu’s affidavit details a dramatic scene wherein a group of 25 to 30 individuals, both men and women, “besieged the CCC Bulawayo provincial offices claiming to have been sent by and furthering the interest of [Chamisa], forcibly took occupation, control, and possession of the CCC offices.” The affidavit further claims that these individuals made it abundantly clear they were acting on behalf of Chamisa, even going so far as to install his portrait atop the gate, signaling a symbolic claim over the premises.

Chamisa’s counter-arguments, as laid out by his legal representative Obey Shava, sharply contest these allegations. Chamisa’s affidavit emphatically denies any association with the CCC since his resignation, stating, “I am not currently part of any political organisation, claiming my image and name have been misappropriated by many people who have no connection to me.” He underlines the irony of the lawsuit, highlighting how, despite his resignation, his imagery continues to be used by the CCC, underscoring a disconnection between his past leadership role and the current state of affairs within the party.

Chamisa further asserts, “I deny all of the allegations of fact and conclusions of law made in this application in their entirety,” dismissing claims of his involvement in the takeover. He clarifies his lack of physical presence in Bulawayo since his departure from the party’s leadership and challenges the lawsuit’s premise by suggesting that if there were individuals responsible for the office’s occupation and repainting, it is they who should be pursued legally, not him.

This legal confrontation encapsulates the ongoing turmoil within the CCC, reflecting broader challenges of leadership succession, party cohesion, and political strategy in Zimbabwe’s opposition landscape. As the Bulawayo High Court reserves judgment, the outcome of this case will likely resonate far beyond the confines of the courtroom, potentially influencing the future direction and unity of the CCC as it navigates the complexities of Zimbabwe’s political terrain.