Legitimacy of Zim President Mnangagwa challenged in Con Court

01 March 2018 - 18:26
By James Thompson
Emmerson Mnangagwa is sworn in as Zimbabwe's president in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Image: Reuters Emmerson Mnangagwa is sworn in as Zimbabwe's president in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Political activist Linda Masarira has taken the fight to President Emmerson Mnangagwa‚ challenging his legitimacy through the Constitutional Court.

Liberal Democrats‚ a political party formed in South Africa in 2015 and led by Masarira‚ argues that Mnangagwa rose to power through a coup.

"He is not the legitimate president; that's why we filed our papers‚" said Masarira.

The papers were filed on Thursday.

When tankers at the behest of now vice president‚ retired army General Constantino Chiwenga‚ rolled into Harare on November 15 – at a time when Mnangagwa had gone into hiding in South Africa - Liberal Democrats issued an anti-coup statement.

"Zimbabwe does not want any coup Sir [Mnangagwa]‚ and we understand the law. The President appointed you and appoints the Army Commanders‚" read the statement.

Last month‚ New Patriotic Front (NPF) petitioned SADC and the AU about the November 2017 developments. In its argument‚ the party said the military intervention was a bloody coup. This was repeated last week by former President Robert Mugabe - Mugabe is listed as one of the parties in the Constitutional Court papers - in a meeting with the AU chairman Moussa Faki.

But through a government gazette on November 25‚ the High Court ruled that the military intervention was within the military's mandate and‚ therefore‚ legal.

"Actions by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to stop the usurping of power by those close to former president Robert Mugabe are constitutional‚" read the judgement.

Just like Masarira and earlier Tendai Biti‚ Mugabe raised concern that the upcoming election will not be free and fair because of the military's heavy handed presence.

"How can they be free and fair when the military is running everything?‚" Mugabe reportedly said during the AU meeting.

This week the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC)'s chairperson Priscilla Chigumba confirmed that 15 percent of the election body's employees are former military servicemen.

In recent weeks rival political parties claimed that 3‚000 soldiers in civilian clothing have been deployed to rural areas‚ which are traditional Zanu PF strongholds. The majority of Zimbabwe's electorate resides in rural areas and there are fears that the soldiers are campaigning for Zanu PF.