Time up Mugabe — court told

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Former MDC-T Highfield MP Munyaradzi Gwisai yesterday told a magistrates’ court President Robert Mugabe must leave office describing the 88-year-old Zanu PF leader as authoritarian and too old to lead the country.

Gwisai, who is being charged with attempting to subvert the constitutionally-elected government, made the remarks during cross-examination.

State counsel Michael Reza had asked the former legislator whether he would confirm the statement by State witness Jonathan Shoko, who had earlier told the court Gwisai had called for Mugabe to step down claiming the Zanu PF leader had ruled for too long.

Reza also asked Gwisai to confirm whether he had labelled Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai a stooge of the West.

“That was Shoko’s statement, but I never said that about Tsvangirai. As for Mugabe, what I said and believe is that he has ruled for more than 30 years as Prime Minister and President and has now turned 88 years old,” he said

Gwisai said the role of elderly statesmen and political leaders like Mugabe, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, was to retire in peace and advise the young leaders.

“It is no coincidence that in all the richest and the most powerful nations in the world such as the People’s Republic of China, United States of America and Great Britain, their supreme leaders are less than 55 years old,” Gwisai said.

“In all republican democratic principles starting with the Roman Republic of the 5th Century BC, in order to curb potential abuse of power by individuals, there were caps and terms on individuals and indeed with our society starting with the rejected referendum to today’s Copac, there is a consensus that no leader must rule for more than two terms or over 10 years,” said Gwisai, who is the leader of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) in Zimbabwe.

“So, yes President Mugabe must go, he has served his time and in the new constitution we must ensure that no leader serves for more than two terms and that no leader who is above the normal public service retirement age of 70 years serves in public office, let alone in the Office of the President.”

Asked by the State whether he would call Mugabe a dictator, Gwisai said: “I would call him an authoritarian leader.

“An authoritarian leader presides over all systems but with relative degrees of checks and balances and, on the other hand, the term ‘dictator’ originated in the Roman Republic. It describes someone who exercises supreme State and political powers without any mandate and checks and balances,” Gwisai said.

Reza asked Gwisai whether he was aware Mugabe was in office as a result of a democratic process.

“I am not aware and no less a person like President Mugabe himself had demanded the urgent holding of elections this year. This is so because he knows the current inclusive government is as a result of a political agreement and not the mandate of the people,” Gwisai told the court.

Asked by the prosecutor on what basis he wanted him to leave office, Gwisai said Mugabe’s “constitutionalism” and political system was authoritarian and he had stayed for too long and was too old to hold office.

Turning to the issue of the alleged march in solidarity with uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, Gwisai said:

“There is nothing odd about it.

“You have no less a person than President Mugabe who has condemned other African leaders for not working in solidarity when one of their colleagues was attacked and killed and surely that cannot be bad about the working class in Zimbabwe.”

It also emerged during the trial that Gwisai used to go by the name Enock Chikweche and that all his educational certificates were in that name.

But Gwisai’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama told provincial magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini his client had legally changed his names and using his former name would be illegal.

Gwisai completed his evidence yesterday and the trial continues today.

The University of Zimbabwe lecturer is being charged alongside Antoinette Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma, Hopewell Gumbo and Welcome Zimuto.lMeanwhile, Magunje MP Franco Ndambakuwa (Zanu PF) arrested on Monday for allegedly embezzling the $50 000 Constituency Development Fund allocation appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday facing fraud and theft charges.

Ndambakuwa was granted $500 bail by magistrate Anita Tshuma and remanded to March 19.