Tsvangirai faces contempt charge

Zanu-PF hardliners are lobbying the party's leadership and their allies in government to ensure Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is charged with criminal contempt of court for slamming Supreme Court judges over the nullification of Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo's election.

Top party officials told the Sunday Times there was a push by Zanu-PF hawks for Tsvangirai to be charged with a similar offence as his exiled MDC-T party treasurer Roy Bennett.

"We are lobbying our senior leaders to ensure that Tsvangirai – who claims to be an advocate of the rule of law – to be charged with criminal contempt of court," a senior Zanu-PF official said. "What he said yesterday (Thursday) is shocking and clearly disrespectful and contemptuous of judges. He must be charged."

Another Zanu-PF official said his party wanted to ensure the Supreme Court arraigned Tsvangirai. The highest court of appeal has powers to charge suspects with contempt of court.

Tsvangirai slammed Supreme Court judges for their ruling on Moyo which dethroned him as speaker of the House of Assembly. The premier described the judges as "politicians masquerading as judges" and "willing appendages of Zanu-PF".

"Today, the Supreme Court handed down a judgment reversing the lawful election of Honourable Lovemore Moyo as the Speaker of Parliament. The fact of the matter is that the election of the speaker was lawful and legitimate, a fact confirmed by the election officer and Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma in his affidavit filed in court," Tsvangirai said.

"What is common cause is that parliament is a separate body, with its own rules and regulations and the courts should not interfere with other arms of the state, namely the legislature."

Tsvangirai further said: "We will not accept the decisions of some Zanu-PF politicians masquerading as judges. Zanu-PF is trying to use the courts to subvert and regain what it lost in an election."

Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said: "I don’t want to comment specifically on Tsvangirai’s statements but criminal contempt of court is an offence which scandalises the court. It happens when one in his criticism insinuates the court is made up of individuals with improper motives or who are not fit to be in those positions."

Attorney General Johannes Tomana said on Friday he did not wish to respond to Tsvangirai’s remarks because they were "political".

"The reason why there are courts is to ensure they interpret the law and administer justice. A normal society must discourage attacks on the courts and judges because that creates anarchy and mayhem," he said.

"I can’t respond to what (Tsvangirai) said because he was talking politics and I don’t talk politics. If you want a response on that call (Justice) Minister (Patrick) Chinamasa." Repeated efforts to get a comment from Chinamsa failed.

Tsvangirai also said the Supreme Court’s ruling reflected the current state of the judiciary. "This decision is a clear reflection of the state of affairs on the Bench … (which) has largely discredited itself by becoming a willing appendage of Zanu-PF. Dubious decisions have been made in this era." – TimesLive