By Gift Phiri
Political activist Promise Mkwananzi said he is appealing against a Wednesday Constitutional Court (Con-Court) ruling which dismissed his challenge that President Robert Mugabe was violating Zimbabwe’s Constitution by violently quashing street protests.
The #Tajamuka/Sesijikile protest group leader accuses the soon-to-be 93-years-old Mugabe of disregarding the Constitution by unleashing police to suppress legitimate demonstrations.
“We are going to re-apply within 30 days in terms of the Constitution, correcting those technicalities,” Mkwananzi said, vowing that “we are not giving up”.
Led by deputy chief Justice Luke Malaba, the Con-Court bench ruled that Mkwananzi had flouted proper procedure by lodging his application to the wrong address.
Instead of delivering his court papers at Mugabe’s Munhumutapa office, Mkwananzi served the papers at New Government Complex.
His lawyer Kudzai Kadzere consented to the decision.
Central to the case, was Mkwananzi’s accusation that Mugabe was overstepping his authority, and that the police and army had gone under the president’s partisan control, which he argued was against the Constitution.
He cited Mugabe’s remarks at a war veterans meeting after one of #Tajamuka/Sesijikile’s protests last year, where the veteran leader said his ruling Zanu PF disciplined renegades during the 70s liberation war against white minority rule by burying them “underground like rats, in bunkers” — threatening to unleash the same treatment on the protest group leaders.
Mkwananzi described the nonagenarian leader’s threats as “unconstitutional and un-president like verbal onslaught”.
Attorney General, Prince Machaya, who was the government lawyer, urged the court to throw out the case saying the application to the president was supposed to be served within two days after filing it in the Con-Court, which Mkwananzi failed to do.
Mkwananzi wants the Con-Court to declare Mugabe’s actions unconstitutional.
Under Zimbabwe’s laws, the top court can indeed make such a determination as it is the custodian of the Constitution.
If the Con-Court is satisfied that Mugabe violated the Constitution, it can direct Parliament to open a probe that could lead to impeachment, and then the top court must then decide whether to uphold the decision or not.
However, the Con-Court cannot determine whether a president is fit to rule.
Alternatively, Mkwananzi can lobby Parliament to remove Mugabe or wait for elections, due in 2018 — those are the only two avenues available, legal experts say.
Mugabe — who has resisted demands that he steps down — won a ringing endorsement to be Zanu PF’s candidate for the presidential vote due in 2018 and University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure has said the country’s opposition political parties were collectively weak, fragmented and confused and that prospects for a pre-electoral alliance was no brighter now than they were a year ago.
This comes after former vice president Joice Mujuru on Wednesday expelled seven senior officials from her fledgling opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party accusing them of being infiltrated by Mugabe’s Zanu PF, but the officials in a counter move also said they had expelled her.
“The opposition is plagued by deep-seated suspicions, distrust and petty jealousies and there is no unifying common history, beliefs and values or ideology except a quest for power,” Masunungure said, adding Mugabe could face a divided opposition in the forthcoming poll, noting that while his ruling Zanu PF was at its weakest in many years; the reality, however, was that its rivals were even weaker. Daily News