The power struggles threatening the government of national unity (GNU) have spilled into the courts after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday petitioned the High Court to restrain President Robert Mugabe’s alleged violations of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
Tsvangirai wants the court to nullify the appointment of 10 provincial governors appointed last month by President Mugabe on the grounds that this was unconstitutionally done.
President Mugabe is cited as the first respondent in court papers filed on Wednesday.
George Charamba, President Mugabe’s spokesperson, was not available for comment as his mobile phone went unreachable.
The latest development comes amid reports that South African President Jacob Zuma is expected in Harare tomorrow to deal with contentious issues threatening the inclusive government.
Zuma’s visit comes a week after Sadc’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security failed to meet to discuss problems besetting the inclusive government in Harare.
On Wednesday, the feud between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai escalated with the PM filing a lawsuit against Mugabe to overturn appointments made last month. Selby Hwacha of Dube, Manikai and Hwacha is representing Tsvangirai.
“It is my respectful contention that the purported appointment of provincial governors by the first respondent (President Mugabe) on the 4th of October 2010 or otherwise are void ab initio (from the start) and/or that the appointments are liable to be set aside,” Tsvangirai said in his High Court application.
“I approach this Honourable Court for a declaration that the purported re-appointments are ultra vires (outside his powers in) the Constitution and therefore void or otherwise liable to be set aside and for related relief as set out in the draft order.”
The governors are also cited as respondents. They are: David Karimanzira, Cain Mathema, Martin Dinha, Aeneas Chigwedere, Faber Chidarikire, Jason Machaya, Christopher Mushohwe, Angeline Masuku, Thokozile Matutu and Titus Maluleke. Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is cited as the 12th respondent.
“I bring to this Honourable Court in my capacity as the Prime Minister and in my personal capacity. As Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I have a duty and obligation to uphold the rule of law and to seek redress in the event of any violations of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and/or the rule of law in general,” Tsvangirai said in the application.
“I have the same rights as a citizen. Personally and as a Prime Minister, I am determined to fulfil and enforce the terms of the Constitution and to re-orient attitudes towards respect for the Constitution, national laws, the rule of law and defence of democratic values.”
Tsvangirai said the matter was important not only to him but also for the good standing and progress of the
“Most regrettably, what has caused and compelled me to file this application is the fact that the first respondent, the President of Zimbabwe, has violated the Constitution. Sadly it appears clear that the violations are intentional,” Tsvangirai said.
“Although there are numerous other instances of the first respondent’s violations of the law, especially in making appointments unilaterally, this application concerns the appointment of Provincial Governors.”
In supporting his arguments, Tsvangirai said the GNU was formed after an inter-party agreement which culminated in the enactment of amendments to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
He said this was after President Mugabe had “won” a discredited presidential run-off election, which was characterised by violence and other electoral malpractices.
“Importantly, the inter-party agreement ushered in and imposed on first respondent’s questioned presidency a new framework of government decidedly different from the one previously in place which had concentrated power or executive authority in an individual,” the Prime Minister said.
“The parties agreed to support the enactment to the Constitution of Zimbabwe in order to give effect to the terms of the agreement.”
Tsvangirai said in terms of the law, President Mugabe had an obligation to make key government appointments in consultation and agreement with him as the Prime Minister.
“In my humble view, submission and plea all of this is plain, clear and simple. Wherever the Constitution obliges the President to act ‘in consultation’ with me as Prime Minister, he must first secure my agreement.
In this instance, the first respondent did not even consult me on the names appointed,” he said.
“The first respondent is aware of his constitutional obligations. He is aware that he cannot appoint provincial governors without my agreement.”