Chamisa loses hope in judiciary, says turning to ‘stadium of the people’

HARARE – MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa says the judiciary is joined at the hip with Zanu PF, and his party has lost confidence that the courts can fairly arbitrate political disputes involving the parties.

Reflecting on several controversial court rulings against his party, opposition activists and human rights defenders, Chamisa said mass action now appeared the only avenue for the people to get justice.

“We have learnt our lesson where to ultimately defend the people’s vote. We have also realised that the courts are not the ultimate end, and are not the appropriate arena for the resolution of political disputes,” Chamisa said on Thursday during commemorations of the 2007 Save Zimbabwe campaign hosted by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

Chamisa narrowly lost an election to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in July 2018, and his defeat was upheld by the Constitutional Court after MDC Alliance lawyers had tried to discredit the election.

In March 2020, the Constitutional Court dealt Chamisa’s party a huge blow when it ruled that he was improperly appointed deputy president of the MDC-T by Morgan Tsvangirai in 2016 and his elevation when Tsvangirai died in 2018 was therefore in breach of the MDC-T constitution.

The MDC-T was now in a coalition known as the MDC Alliance, which contested the July 2018 elections.

Acting on that judgement, Chamisa’s internal opponents jumped ship to revive the MDC-T, before claiming MDC Alliance MPs and councillors as their own. Those who resisted were recalled, with the blessing of the courts.

Dozens of opposition activists and pro-democracy campaigners are languishing in jail as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government weaponises the legal system.

Chamisa said since the courts were failing to ensure justice, “political disputes must therefore be settled in the stadium of the people.”

“That means our zones of resolving political questions of the day are going to be superintended upon by the people who are going to be umpires, the referees, but also going to be actors,” Chamisa said.

A recent report by the Zimbabwe NGO Forum revealed that the country was witnessing increased state repression under Mnangagwa’s leadership, documenting 86 cases of abductions and torture of activists in 2019 and 34 in 2020.

Outspoken activist Makomborero Haruzivishe, who is facing kidnapping charges, was recently denied bail by the Harare Magistrate’s Court.

On Thursday, MDC Alliance youth leaders Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri who are facing charges of convening an unlawful public gathering were also denied bail in what is their third arrest since last May.

Chamisa noted that this continuous clampdown on dissent by the regime, with courts offering no buffer, had made the legal system a “blocked route, with so many hazards most of them which have spelt doom of the people of Zimbabwe.”

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