BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy as both national and Zanu PF leader has been challenged at the High Court by a party official, who is seeking nullification of the November 19, 2017 central committee meeting which appointed him leader.
Zanu PF member, Sybeth Musengezi yesterday filed an application at the High Court citing the ruling party and Mnangagwa as the second and third respondents, respectively.
Musengezi was secretary for business development and liaison, Muzinda WaMugabe district, Zone 4, Harare province before the November 2017 coup.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, acting political commissar Patrick Chinamasa, former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko and Ignatius Chombo were also cited as respondents.
Mnangagwa was unanimously appointed Zanu PF first secretary on November 19, 2017 during a special session of the central committee by senior party members, following a military coup that ousted the late former President Robert Mugabe.
Then High Court judge Justice George Chiweshe ruled that the military’s intervention to stop “those around” Mugabe from taking over power was constitutionally permissible and lawful.
In the High Court application, Musengezi, who is represented by Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practioners, is seeking a court order that Mphoko, cited as the fifth respondent, should take necessary steps in line with the Zanu PF constitution to convene and preside over a special party congress to fill top leadership positions within three months of the granting of the order.
“Whereupon, after reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel for the parties, it is ordered that a declaratur be and is hereby issued that the special session of the central committee of the first respondent convened on November 19, 2017, at the party headquarters in Harare from 10:00 to 1600hrs, was ultra vires the provisions of the constitution of the first respondent and, therefore, unlawful and null and void,” Musengezi said.
“A declaratur be and is hereby issued that all the resolutions of the special session of the central committee of the first respondent passed at the unlawful meeting convened on November 19, 2017, are unlawful, invalid and are accordingly set aside.”
In his founding affidavit, Musengezi also argues that Mnangagwa’s leadership of the country was also illegitimate, because he rose to the post through an “unconstitutional” November 19 central committee session.
“The stakes in the present matter are much higher and cry out for the corrective intervention of this honourable court as the beneficiary of chain of events which commenced with the unlawful special session of the central committee convened on the 19th of November 2017, ‘the second respondent’ now occupies the position of both president and first secretary of the party and President and Head of State of the country,” he said.
“His ascension to both those positions is tainted by blatant illegalities in violation of the constitution of the first respondent. He cannot derive any legitimacy at all from the catalogue of illegalities which were committed in furtherance of his ambition to occupy the two offices of the party and the country.”
Musengezi claims that the meeting was invalid because Mugabe was not incapacitated as alleged since he managed to preside over a Zimbabwe Open University graduation ceremony the same day he was ousted.
He claims that the alleged claim of incapacitation of the 2017 top party leaders by other senior members who attended the “unlawful and unconstitutional” special session of the central committee convened on November 19 was “deliberately false and misleading”.
Musengezi wrote in the court papers that he feared that if Mnangagwa was allowed to retain the position he acquired illegally, he would engage in further illegal conduct to retain and consolidate his grip on power.
The matter is yet to be heard.