Didymus Mutasa, ZimPF, sued over party name

Charles Mabhena

Troubles are still far from over for the Didymus Mutasa beleaguered Zimbabwe People First (ZIMPF) party.

The party which is still hurting from an injurious split, which saw war veteran and former ZANU-PF vice-president Joyce Mujuru leaving through acrimonious dismissals, has been ordered to stop using the name by a rival political party, Zimbabwe First led by Maxwell Shumba.

In a letter addressed to Didymus Mutasa and his party, Messers Tsara and Associates gave 24 days to stop using the name from the date they receive the letter, failing of which the later (Zimbabwe First) will take the matter to High Court for a court order against Mutasa.

“We act for and on behalf of Zimbabwe first (ZImFirst) Party and President Dr Maxwell Zeb Shumba. Kindly take note of our interest herein. We have been instructed that you have continued to use our client’s name besides being advised that the same has already been taken and registered with the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) in May 2005 long before your assumption of the name.

“Our client have been silent on the issue hoping that you find an alternative  name in order to resolve the issue amicably without drawing the attention of the electorate and the public in general,”read the letter also copied to ZEC.

The letter stated; “However, we have noted that Mrs Mujuru has abandoned the use of the name Zimbabwe People First/ Zimbabwe First / People First which was essentially  our client’s names.

“Your actions have severely inconvenienced our clients and are prejudicial to their business as a party. It is not a dispute that the electorate and the public are confused as to whether there are two parties with the same name or whether a party is a faction of the other,”

For the avoidance of doubt, Dr Maxwell Zeb Shumba registered his party in May 2015 using the names Zimbabwe First, People First and Country First.

“He has been communicating with you since March 2015 pertaining to that name and all documentation in the registrar’s office confirms his assertions that the names belong to his party. The names were no longer available at the time that you lodged the registration of your party but you nevertheless went on to copy and assume that name for your party.

“By copy of this letter, ZEC is hereby requested not to recognize your party should you wish to contest on the 2008 election under the name Zimbabwe People First,” reads part of the letter.

Fights over party names have become a permanent feature of Zimbabwean politics.

In the early eighties, ZANU-PF and ZANU Ndoga fought over the party’s name after the later, Late Nationalist leader Ndabaniningi Sithole (founder of ZANU) contested the use of the name by the ruling ZANU-PF party.

When the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) split and the splitter group of Professor Welshman Ncube moved to form their own party, they contested the Morgan Tsvangirai led group over the issue of the party’s name. The two protagonists ended sharing the same party name separated by the leader’s initials.