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Mugabe sued over Unity Day

By Moses Matenga | NewsDay |

MDC-T Chitungwiza MP Alexio Musundire and civic activists Tinomudaishe Chinyoka and Coliwe Mufaki have taken President Robert Mugabe to the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of declaring December 22 a national holiday.

President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe

The three, who filed their papers last Friday, argue that December 22 was not a national holiday, but a commemoration of a unity between two political parties — Zanu and PF-Zapu.

The day was set aside to celebrate the signing of the 1987 Unity Accord between President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu.

In his founding affidavit, Musundire said December 22 was not a date for celebration, but one for “mourning one of the victims of Zanu PF hegemony”.

“And more importantly, as a member of the opposition, I do not believe that I should observe this so-called Unity Day, as it effectively forces me to think on, reflect about and celebrate a day that is only relevant to our political rivals,” he said.

“Zanu PF can and should celebrate their day as Zanu PF and not seek to foist it on the rest of us.”

Mugabe is cited as the first respondent, while Zanu PF secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo is cited as second respondent in his capacity as Home Affairs minister and responsible for the administration of the public holidays and Prohibition of Business Act.

In her founding affidavit, Mufaki said she was apolitical, but was against being forced to celebrate the day.

“In the daily search for a living, there is no time left to get involved in politics. In any event, I believe that I have a right to choose to not be involved in politics if I do not want to. I have been informed, and, therefore, have reason to believe that the Constitution gives me a right to be apolitical,” she argued.

“I am, therefore, perturbed to see each year, second respondent designates December 22 as a day when I cannot go around to different companies looking for a job, on the excuse that I should join him in celebrating first respondent’s signature of some agreement with another political party that used to exist and may or may no longer exist.”

Mufaki added: “Even if I am apolitical, I think that my rights ought to be respected. That should include not being forced to celebrate an event that is only relevant to those interested in politics, in particular, Zanu PF politics.”

Chinyoka, a lawyer currently doing further studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, argued: “On this day, like on any other public holidays, all government business is shut. All public offices are closed, and major businesses like banks and other financial institutions are closed.

“It is virtually impossible to conduct any business on National Unity Day, even if one wanted to.”

Musundire and Chinyoka have also filed a separate lawsuit, challenging Zanu PF’s sole mandate to declare national heroes. The matter is also pending at the High Court.