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Zimbabwean Seeking Court Action to Force Mugabe to Quit

  • Gibbs Dube

FILE: President Robert Mugabe waits to address crowds gathered for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015.

FILE: President Robert Mugabe waits to address crowds gathered for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015.

An online Zimbabwean publication, NewZimbabwe.com, reports that a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has taken President Robert Mugabe to court demanding that he should step down due to old age and poor health.

The publication reports that the matter was taken to court Friday in Harare by Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, a Zimbabwean based in the United Kingdom.

In his papers, Chinyoka argues that Mr. Mugabe is no longer capable of ruling Zimbabwe following his recent blunder in parliament where he read an old speech, alleged memory lapses and stumbles – including the one in Harare where he fell in front of his supporters.

Chinyoka further claims, according to the publication, that remarks by his wife at a rally that Mr. Mugabe will rule Zimbabwe, even if he is wheel-chair bound, are a clear indication that there could be something wrong with his health and this makes him ineligible to rule the country.

The publication quotes Chinyoka’s court application, which is said to read in part, “On or about 4 February 2015, while returning from a trip to Ethiopia, First Respondent fell awkwardly while descending from a podium at the airport.

“From the pictures of the event, there does not appear to have been any obstacle that caused this fall, and the awkwardness of the fall appeared to be inconsistent with this obstacle-free environment.

“... The suggestion from this episode is that First Respondent may no longer be physically fit, thus putting into question his fitness for the job of President of the republic.”

Respondents of the application are Mr. Mugabe, Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also Zimbabwe’s vice president, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda and Senate president Edna Madzongwe.

Critics say this application stands no chance in a court of law as President Mugabe cannot be removed from power through such means or mere public petitions.

President Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe attained independence from British rule in 1980.

Section 97 of Zimbabwe’s constitution stipulates that a president can be removed from office if the Senate and the National Assembly, by a joint resolution passed by at least one-half of their total membership, "may resolve that the question whether or not the president or a vice-president should be removed from office for a serious misconduct; failure to obey, uphold or defend this Constitution; willful violation of the constitution; or inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity...

“Upon the passing of a resolution in terms of subsection (1), the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders must appoint a joint committee of the Senate and the National Assembly consisting of nine members reflecting the political composition of Parliament, to investigate the removal from office of the President or Vice-President, as the case may be.”

It further states that “if the joint committee appointed in terms of subsection (2) recommends the removal from office of the President or Vice-President; and the Senate and the National Assembly, by a joint resolution passed by at least two-thirds of their total membership, resolve that the President or Vice-President, as the case may be, should be removed from office; the President or Vice-President thereupon ceases to hold office.”

Experts say parliament is unlikely to take this action as of now since Zanu PF currently holds a clear majority in both houses.

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