Hebert Zharare Deputy News Editor
Government has slammed pro-MDC-T lawyers who accused President Mugabe of threatening judges and magistrates against handing the case of ousted secretary for administration Mr Didymus Mutasa and former party spokesperson Mr Rugare Gumbo as misleading the nation.
While addressing thousands of people gathered at Chinyika Ranch Ward 2 in Chirumanzi-Zibagwe constituency to witness a ground-breaking technology, the exothermic (Alluminathemic) demonstration by African Chrome Field, President Mugabe said it would be interference with Zanu-PF internal matters if the judiciary entertained Messrs Mutasa and Gumbo’s case.
The two former officials last week filed an application at the High Court seeking an order to declare the revolutionary party’s 6th National People’s Congress and its outcome a nullity.
Said President Mugabe: “Regai kumboita hanya neavo vanoti tinonomhan’arira party . . . Ndiani akamboti policy yeparty, bumbiro reparty rinotibatanidza, ibumbiro renyika? . . . Hapana nyaya inoenda kucourt inoenda kunamargistrate. Tati hatichakuda kumusangano wedu wakuenda kunamagistrate. Iye magistrate kuti abate nyaya iyoyo ndinoti aah wakafunda kupi?”
The President’s statement was widely interpreted by MDC-T-linked lawyers and sections of the private media as threatening judges and magistrates and the rule of law.
However, in a statement yesterday Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said the lawyers were misdirecting themselves in twisting the President’s statement.
“It is wrong and unacceptable that some lawyers who are known to belong to some beleaguered opposition political parties, such as Alex Magaisa and Lovemore Madhuku, have sought to abuse their legal robes to misinform the public about the legal import of President Mugabe’s statement last Friday, that he could not see how any court of law could entertain the recent court application by Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo against Zanu-PF, in which the President is cited as a Second Respondent.
“President Mugabe said it would be a case of interference in Zanu-PF internal matters that are not legal but are ideological and political should the courts entertain Mutasa’s matter.
“It is thus shocking that some lawyers who should know better have sought to misrepresent the President’s remarks as a threat to the rule of law. This is particularly true of outrageous claims that President Mugabe is allegedly prejudicing and pre-empting the case brought by Mutasa and Gumbo while also allegedly compromising the separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. This is because the legal import of all that President Mugabe said last Friday is that as a litigant in the matter and in terms of the law, the courts have no jurisdiction to determine a case involving Zanu-PF as a private voluntary organisation in which the complainants, Mutasa and Gumbo, who were members of the party before their expulsion, neither sought nor exhausted all the domestic remedies available to them at the material time.”
Prof Moyo said President Mugabe was entitled to this legal defence, of the court’s last known of jurisdiction, as a respondent in the matter.
He said it was entirely up to the court, which would hear the case, to determine whether or not it had the jurisdiction that had been wrongly presumed by Mr Mutasa and Gumbo.
“In the circumstances, it is amateurish and gutter politics for a lawyer, such as Alex Magaisa, to claim as he did that President Mugabe’s challenge to the jurisdiction of the court in Mutasa’s case is allegedly ‘in bad taste’ and allegedly ‘has the net effect of inducing fear among the judges given the position he (the President) held’.
“It is the likes of Magaisa, not President Mugabe, who seek to use their political hogwash to induce fear among the judges on the basis of fictitious threats. It’s nonsensical and an insult to the judiciary for the Magaisas of this world to unashamedly claim that judges are intimidated by litigants who, as President Mugabe has done, challenge their jurisdictions. Anyone who knows anything useful about what goes on daily in the courts must know that challenging the court’s jurisdiction is commonplace.”
He said public record showed that it was Messrs Mutasa and Gumbo who dragged the President to court by citing him as a Second Respondent with absolutely no legal cause whatsoever.
“The loquacious lawyers who are better known for their failed politics than any legal success have not interrogated the legal implications of having a sitting President cited as a respondent without any legal basis.
“Surely, having been improperly cited in a political case with no legal justification, President Mugabe is fully entitled in our constitutional democracy to respond both politically and legally to the matter.”
He said politically, President Mugabe had made it clear on many occasions that Mr Mutasa was wasting his time by seeking the intervention of the courts in Zanu-PF affairs.
“This is because, while it has a written constitution that establishes and defines its structures, Zanu-PF is essentially an ideological and political organisation and it is these two aspects that are more important than anything else. Belonging to Zanu-PF is a two-way voluntary act between a member and the party. Nobody has a right to belong to Zanu-PF, as membership depends on its acceptance by the party,” Minister Moyo said.