Mangoma – Courts must not be pawns in political games

OPINION – In a normal democracy of which Zimbabwe does not even have a semblance currently, some of the cases that are being brought before the courts today, primarily by ZANU PF or its surrogates, would never have been entertained by any competent court of law.

As clear as mud, chances of Mangoma being convicted are between nil and zero. Like many other politically-motivated cases before, this one will also crumble as if it was a multi-storey building on the epicentre of a very strong earthquake. Even the most incompetent kangaroo court sitting in the remote village of Somalia or the mountainous wilderness of Afghanistan, will find that Mangoma did absolutely nothing wrong. Zimbabwe has competent courts and fortunately, most of the judges are still very professional which is why there is every reason to believe that the case is simply a waste of precious time.

Analysing the learned judge’s comments while granting Mangoma bail, one gets the impression that even courts are getting unfairly fatigued and terribly frustrated by the plethora of unmeritorious political cases brought before them most of which end up being thrown out. In a country where some inmates go for many years without even facing trial, such abuse of the judiciary’s valuable time is just not warranted. However, MDC leaders both within and without government, must learn to sleep with one eye open. A very close cousin of mine who has been keenly following this drama put it more bluntly "MDC ministers must be whiter than white because they are being set-up everyday, at times by their own staff"

This is a reminder that a significant number of public servants still believe that they are serving at the mercy of ZANU PF, forgetting that the democracy train took off two years ago and will soon arrive at its intended destination. Signals on the way will not change the course of the journey even if intersection lights turn red for longer than they are programmed to. This is something the democracy train can and shall deal with.

In a bizarre demonstration of the fact that Mangoma’s case was more of political persecution and humiliation than anything else, the diligent, intelligent but humble minister was reportedly taken to court in handcuffs and prison gab putting him in the same boat as known murderers freely roaming the streets of Zimbabwe today. Aware that the state does not have any strong case against the minister other than to simply harass, demoralise and embarrass him in public, vulnerable prison officers religiously took instructions from their masters to take the barbaric route of handcuffing him as if he was the one wanted for the grisly murder of Chiminya, Mabika or Nabanyama. Onlookers would have been forgiven for thinking that this man was the fugitive responsible for the widely reported but still unresolved disappearance of Rashiwe Guzha or the unforgettable murder of Captain Nleya.

The Nutty Professor, through a weird analogy, went on to confirm what we have always known, being that we are now in a typical Animal Farm where ZANU PF and its supporters are more equal than others. In his own words "If you are arrested for murder, you don’t say you are innocent because there are other murderers out there," Those who conferred professorship on this psychotic (otherwise called certified idiot by Chamisa) must be literally hanging their heads in shame!

In the civilised, democratic and free world, the police will only resort to handcuffs where a suspect is violent, a flight risk or a risk to himself and others around him. None of these applied to Mangoma. The competent court should have reprimanded prison officers for such shameful behaviour. Progressive Zimbabweans hope that this kind of barbarism will not be allowed in our court premises ever again.

While I’m not a legal expert (not that I’ve any aspiration), one question needs to be asked "how thick or thin is the line between the Judiciary and the Legislature as separate arms of State?" I’m raising this question because the speaker’s saga, in my humble opinion, is a matter that should have been competently dealt with and resolved by parliamentary processes without necessarily seeking recourse in a court of law. Not many years ago, Roy Bennett was sent to prison for two years by the same parliament for very minor skirmishes that could simply attract a roar of laughter in contemporary democracies. Reprimanding Bennett or throwing him out of the House would have been appropriate punishment. Nevertheless, the ZANU PF-dominated parliament then, passed a judgement which was carried out.

I refer to this case in an attempt to remind anybody who cares that parliament is an independent institution that can resolve its own issues without seeking refuge in another Executive arm. Why the Supreme Court saw it fit to make a determination on the speaker which is purely a parliamentary matter is just incredible. If indeed the election was not done properly, therefore null and void, may the same court please enlighten us as to what is going to happen to all the bills and laws that the dethroned speaker presided over during his tenure? Will they be nullified as well? Zimbabweans need to know what kind of punishment will be meted out to the officer who presided over the shambolic election and blessed its outcome; being none other than the Clerk of Parliament.

In future, Zvoma should exercise the same kind of "efficiency" when supersonically ejecting former ministers, governors and MPs from government properties. Even the Nutty Professor will be tempted to cross the floor and support this position if his personal experience is anything to go by. If indeed the speaker’s election was of no force or effect, why does he have to automatically lose his voting powers as well as his parliamentary seat? Those who once described law using a word I’m not comfortable to print, knew something we didn’t!

To those who have all of a sudden become self-proclaimed champions of the rule of law such as Jonathan Moyo who is not even ashamed to preach the gospel while standing on the devil’s pulpit, have you forgotten that ZANU PF can easily go into the book of records for disregarding court rulings? How many innocent citizens were granted bail on several occasions but still remained behind bars? How many times did some farmers win their cases in our courts (even within the region) but still denied justice? How many times have ZANU PF ministers been in contempt of court or parliament with nothing happening to them? Chief culprits are Chombo and Patrick Chinamasa, paradoxically the Minister of Justice. Flamboyant academic and legal expert, Alex Magaisa, couldn’t have put it better when he said "Some characters who today point accusatory fingers do not seem to have a clean record when it comes to contemptuous behaviour towards the courts,"

While still on Chinamasa, could somebody please tell us where this man is. His latest silence is very untypical. Is he on leave, in hospital or extremely satisfied with Jonathan Moyo’s performance? Did anybody also notice that both Webster Shamu and George Charamba have virtually disappeared from the radar? It is now too obvious that those who have been used before are being used again. At the right time, they will be off-loaded once more and left to start their long, forlorn and solitary journey back to Dinyane or wherever they came from.

To conclude, politicians must stop abusing our overstretched judiciary to settle political scores. Rather, the courts should be allowed to focus more on their core business of delivering justice without being used as pawns in endless political games. Probably the starting point is having a new face to replace the overdue police commissioner.

Chambokom@gmail.com