Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power in 2017 cannot be challenged in court: Zanu PF

ZANU PF has said the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear a case where a Zanu PF youth league member is challenging the constitutionality of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power in 2017.

Sybeth Musengezi filed papers at the High Court in October seeking a ruling declaring null and void a November 19, 2017 Zanu PF central committee meeting that confirmed Mnangagwa as the acting president.

Musengezi is represented by his lawyer Nqobani Sithole

Mugabe was forced to resign after the meeting as party and Zimbabwe president respectively and replaced by Mnangagwa. In December 2017, Mnangagwa was confirmed as substantive party president at the Zanu PF congress, and later went on to win the disputed 2018 elections.

In opposing papers filed on Friday, Zanu PF secretary for Administration Obert Mpofu argued the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the case, further adding that Mnangagwa enjoyed presidential immunity.

“The High Court therefore has no jurisdiction to try the President for any cause against him in his personal capacity whilst he is still in office. The provision is part of our constitution which is the supreme law of the country and hence the constitution is authoritative on that point,” Mpofu said in an opposing affidavit filed through Dube Manikai & Hwacha Commercial Law Chambers.

“It is important to note that the theory of presidential immunity is not found in Zimbabwe alone. It is one that is common in most democracies. Section 98 entitles the President of Zimbabwe to absolute immunity for civil and criminal infractions whilst he is still in office. The immunity insulates him from any civil or criminal prosecution.”

Musengezi cited Zanu PF, Mnangagwa, Mpofu, Chinamsa, former deputy president Phelekezela Mphoko and ex Zanu PF finance secretary Ignatious Chombo as the first to fifth respondents respectively in his application.

Mpofu argued that Musengezi was also not a Zanu PF member contrary to his claims.

“The applicant was never accredited to a cell as he was never a resident of Hatcliff as he alleges. This means that he was never a member of the party to begin with. The applicant cannot therefore produce a party card as evidence before this Honourable Court which was given to him after he fraudulently represented that he belonged to a cell,” Mpofu said.

Musengezi participated in the Zanu PF primary elections for Harare North constituency ahead of the 2018 elections and lost to the MDC Alliance’s Allan Markham in the elections.

The matter has not been set down for a hearing.

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