CHIEF’S Council president Fortune Charumbira has dug in and refused to comply with a recent High Court order compelling him to publicly apologise for urging traditional leaders to support the ruling Zanu PF party.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Charumbira has, instead petitioned the High Court, seeking rescission of the judgment, which he claimed was erroneously arrived at.
He claimed that when he made the alleged offensive remarks he was not speaking in his personal capacity, but simply expressing the position taken by all the country’s chiefs.
“It is evident from the statement that the remarks which I am alleged to have made are a statement of the position of chiefs. I was, therefore, simply enunciating, according to the statement, the position which had been adopted by chiefs. There is, therefore, no basis for me to be sued in my personal capacity at all,” Charumbira said in his founding affidavit.
Last month, High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri ordered Charumbira to publicly retract his statements that traditional leaders would support Zanu PF in the upcoming elections. The order followed an application by a civic organisation, the Election Resource Centre (ERC).
The judge also ordered Local Government minister July Moyo to take disciplinary action against Charumbira. The case was heard unopposed, leading to the granting of a default judgment.
But in his application filed on Tuesday, Charumbira maintained his innocence, saying the reason why a default judgment had been entered against him was because he was outside the country on official business when the court papers were served at the Parliament building.
“I humbly request the honourable court to accept my explanation in respect of the reasons for the default. I ask that the default judgment be condoned and the applicant be granted leave to file opposing papers in this matter which has very far reaching consequences on the position of the applicant,” Charumbira said.
“I have been cited as the first respondent in the principal proceedings. As already indicated above, one of the capacities in which I am cited is in my personal capacity. In my personal capacity, I have committed no infraction of the law whatsoever. The application against me in my personal capacity is therefore completely misplaced.
“The averments which I am alleged to have uttered were not made by me in my personal capacity . . . at no point in the statement which is quoted did I purport to act in my individual capacity … it is evident from the statement that the remarks which I am alleged to have made are a statement of the position of chiefs.”
Charumbira was last week given a seven-day ultimatum within which to issue the apology, which according to the service of court papers expired on June 14, 2018.
In his affidavit, ERC chairperson, Trust Maanda had described Charumbira’s statements as unlawful and unconstitutional.
Maanda said Charumbira repeated the October 2017 utterances in January this year, saying since former President Robert Mugabe had been deposed and President Emmerson Mnangagwa having taken over, on January 14, 2018, he was urging all the chiefs to rally behind the ruling party.
“I never made any remarks in respect of the people of Charumbira chieftainship that they should support any particular political party or should vote for any particular candidate. If I had done so, perhaps, the applicant would have had some basis for complaint,” Charumbira insisted.
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.