Army intervention lawful: High Court

HARARE - Judge president George Chiweshe has said the takeover of government by the army, which culminated in president Robert Mugabe’s resignation, was lawful.

This comes after two citizens approached the High Court arguing that the army’s intervention was necessary on the basis that Mugabe could no longer be in a position to make independent decisions and was now acting under his wife Grace’s influence.

General Constantino Chiwenga

The applicants were Joseph Evurath Sibanda and Leonard Chikomba. They were represented by Thabani Mpofu.

“Whereupon after reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel: it is declared that: the actions of the second respondent (Constantino Chiwenga) in intervening to stop the takeover of first respondent (Mugabe)’s constitutional functions by those around him are constitutionally permissible and lawful in terms of Section 212 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in that:

“They arrest first respondent’s abdication of constitutional function, and they ensure that non-elected officials do not exercise executive functions which can only be exercised by elected constitutional functionaries.

“The actions of the second respondent being constitutionally valid, second respondent has the right to take all such measures and undertake all such acts as will bring the desired end to its intervention,” Chiweshe said.

In the case, the court noted that Mugabe was no longer making key government decisions, which were now being made by his wife, Grace and a Zanu PF faction known as the G40.

“It is public knowledge that Mrs Mugabe went on a crusade against the country’s former vice president, (Joice) Mujuru telling everyone that she was to be ousted. In the event she was. The decision was clearly not of the first respondent.

“Various office holders in the State and the ruling party Zanu PF have lost their positions simply because of the acidic remarks she has made at rallies. Very recently, ...Mnangagwa was relieved of his constitutional position after Mrs Mugabe and her gang had demanded his removal. Barely 24 hours after the call he was unceremoniously dismissed on the basis of falsehoods.

“This court is the only authority that can interpret the law and the actions of the ZDF (Zimbabwe Defence Forces) and pronounce itself thereon. For the comfort of the people of Zimbabwe, her neighbours and the international community, a declaration on the validity of the actions of the ZDF ought to be issued. It is imperative that the court’s discretion be exercised in favour of granting the declaratur sought,” the judge noted.