Zimbabwe is facing another interesting legal battle, with the ruling party Zanu PF and its officials being sued for failing to adhere to the party’s constitution in elevating Emmerson Mnangagwa as its leader.
We have already seen a similar case involving the leadership of the opposition MDC-T and seen its political ramifications. Mnangagwa and his lawyers know it too, and last week tried to arm-twist Zanu PF activist Sybeth Musengezi to withdraw his High Court application. We only hope that the President’s lawyers were just being excitable.
Based on the lawyers’ letter, the first logical conclusion is that there is admission on the President’s part that this is a case he is could lose and wants it to stop instantly without any further interaction with the courts.
That argument justifies the long-held suspicion on the legality of how Mnangagwa took over power via a coup when he had clearly lost the boardroom to the G40 cabal that had coalesced around his ex-boss, the late Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, leading to his expulsion for “lacking probity.”
The argument, that he only had the army to thank for coming out of the barracks to reverse the legal termination of his contract by Mugabe and force him into the hearts and minds of Zanu PF supporters, has been in the public dormain for some time, though in hushed tones.
ED must let his lawyers act like sticklers to the rule of law and allow due process to take its course and expose Musengezi for who he is if, indeed, he is as dubious as the lawyers claim.
The letter exposes the fear by his lawyers that Musengezi has a plausible case against him.
There is also an assumption that Musengezi could not have acted alone so there must be some heavy political capital behind him.
The phobia in Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF of the G40 cabal is legendary and that’s why everyone who cries out loud for democracy and respect of the law in the party immediately painted with the G40 brush.
Musengezi approached the courts in October challenging the Zanu PF central committee processes that led to ED assuming the party leadership.
Let the courts rule on the matter, and the President’s lawyers should desist from intimidating him or his lawyers.
The threat to sue Musengezi’s lawyers for allegedly approaching the courts with a case “devoid of merit and brought for ulterior motives” is laughable coming from interested parties and unfortunate if they represent a whole President.
Last year, a damning report revealed a worrying trend on the systematic arrest of lawyers since the beginning of 2020, two years after Mnangagwa came into power.
The report, launched virtually by the Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights titled: Attacks on Human Rights Lawyers in Zimbabwe, noted how lawyers have been barred from representing their clients, subjected to arbitrary arrests and sometimes attacked for practising their profession.
At least 15 lawyers were arrested and barred from carrying out their duties since the beginning of 2020, according to the report.
That is unacceptable in a democracy if indeed Zimbabwe is one.
There is no need to threaten lawyers, especially in a case before the courts.
As a lawyer, Mnangagwa should know better.