Mugabe offside on judges

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s threat on judges — delivered during his address to Zanu PF youths in Harare on Saturday — must have had a chilling effect on the learned men and women tasked with interpreting the laws of the country.

When Mugabe as head of the Executive — which is only one of the three pillars of government that include the Judiciary and the Legislature — questions judges’ interpretation of the law, it erodes the integrity and independence of the Judiciary as a whole.

In any case, the judges are simply passing judgments in accordance with what is provided in the Constitution. However, there is nothing new in Mugabe’s stance because we have walked this road before.

In 2001, government purged judges from the bench, including then Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, for ruling against the chaotic fast-track land reform programme launched in 2000. Allowing protestors the permission to demonstrate, in Mugabe’s view, is politically-incorrect but we can state as a matter of fact that the judgments are constitutionally-correct. He therefore wants to use judges to contain swelling public anger against him.

Mugabe’s threats therefore show the intensity of the feeling of insecurity in the man who superintends over Zimbabwe’s affairs of State. What Mugabe must remember is that he promised “to observe, uphold and defend the Constitution . . . and all other laws of Zimbabwe” when he took the oath of office following his victory in the controversial July 31, 2013 elections.

The right to demonstrate in guaranteed by the supreme law of the land — the Constitution. How Mugabe expects judges to defy the same is, at the least, startling. When the National Electoral Reform Agenda, a grouping of 18 opposition political parties lodged an urgent application at the High Court, seeking its intervention after the police had denied them permission to demonstrate, they did so according to the provisions of the laws of Zimbabwe. Although the High Court cleared the demonstration, the police would have none of it. The resultant clashes were a result of the police resorting to the use of tactics used by the white supremacist government of Ian Smith before independence.

According to opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, violence begets violence and when police routinely start firing teargas and chasing innocent citizens, some individuals can retaliate.

The police are there to protect and serve the broad masses and certainly not meant to beat up people. Violence and destruction of property can never be condoned but people must be allowed to air their grievances peacefully as enshrined in our Constitution.

Banning protests and threatening judges will not solve Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges, including unemployment, cash shortages, corruption and general economic mismanagement for decades.

On the other hand, succession squabbles within the ruling party continuously deprive the leadership time to focus on issues that can improve the lives of people in this resource-rich country.

Comments (3)

threats... each time he open his mouth you expect threats, blaming other people. harming words nothing else.. the zim old man is a big shame

peacelover - 5 September 2016

kkkkk zimbaabwe!!!

aha - 9 September 2016

I am so sad at the state Zimbabwe is in now. A one proud country that lived in peace where its citizens could go freely about their and with full stomachs business. The former Rhodesia had its faults but nothing was as bad as it is now under Mugabe. I lived their for over 20 years. Hopefully Mugabe will be toppled soon and replaced with someone "normal"! Good luck!

ERIC BIRRELL - 10 September 2016

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