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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Lambasts Mugabe for Attacking Judiciary

FILE: Zimbabwe's opposition supporters set up a burning barricade as they clash with police during a protest for electoral reforms, Aug. 26, 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe.
FILE: Zimbabwe's opposition supporters set up a burning barricade as they clash with police during a protest for electoral reforms, Aug. 26, 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

President of Zimbabwe’s opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Tendai Biti, says local people should not delegate their fight against socio-economic challenges they are currently going through but should instead carry their own cross and fight President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF pary.

Biti made the call on Sunday while addressing a PDP district rally in Epworth, Harare. He noted that it was constitutional for the people to hold peaceful demonstrations against the Zanu PF government.

“It is time to carry our cross. Our task as Zimbabweans is simple. Robert Mugabe and Ndabaningi Sithole carried their cross to remove Ian Smith. Now it is time for us to carry our cross and remove Robert Mugabe and the Zanu PF regime. We cannot delegate this,” he said.

“We have no guns but a constitutional right to go into the streets”.

President Biti denounced Mugabe for attacking the judges on Saturday soon after he arrived from a trip from the Middle East.

“Our constitution says the courts are independent and Mugabe is breaking the constitution by attacking the independence of the courts. We cannot have a president who does not respect the constitution. We cannot have a president who treats judges as his housemaids.

“As PDP our solution to this economic and political breakdown is simple – let us put pressure on the government through the courts, churches and streets because it is the future of our children and grandchildren at stake,” he said.

The PDP leader said it was shocking that Mugabe could attend events such as the SADC summit and claim to be the President of Zimbabwe when the country is facing numerous challenges and people are dying from curable diseases such as diabetes.

“How can you go to SADC and claim to be the President of Zimbabwe when 91% of the people are unemployed, 79% are using the bush toilet system. I don’t wish for the death of Mugabe but I want him to live and witness change and see that the development of Zimbabwe is possible.

“Zanu PF has failed. You can rig anything but you cannot rig the economy. There is no fiscal discipline. Here, Epworth is like a refugee camp, Mbare and Hatcliffe are like war ravaged towns. In Rwanda, you will not find a water well but it is a country that lost 1 million people in 1996. It is a country that has been led by people with love for the country and its people.

“A government that is feared by the people is not a government. The government should fear the people,” said President Biti.

He called on all democratic parties to come together and demand electoral reforms before the next elections.

“That is why on Saturday we as the PDP were in Bindura attending the ZimPF rally. As political parties we need to demand for the use of a BVR (biometric voters’ roll) in the next elections that are 20 months away,” he said.

He said politics of slogans were no longer a necessity as people expected an elected government to deliver on their promises.

“In 2013, Zanu PF promised 2, 2 million jobs but now they have killed 2 million jobs. We do not want politics of slogans that is why we have HOPE as one of our policy documents,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) says it is concerned by the Zimbabwean Mr. Mugabe’s verbal attacks on the judiciary saying they pose a clear threat to the independence of the judiciary in particular and the constitutional order at large.

“The statements are unfortunate coming from the Head of State and Government, whose primary duty and oath of office commits him to defending the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The Constitution of Zimbabwe commits the President to protecting the inalienable rights that the Bill of Rights in Chapter 4 allots to Zimbabwean citizens regardless of their political affiliations, including the freedom to peacefully demonstrate and petition.

“ZimRights wishes to emphasise to the President that he should resist the temptation to elevate his personal interests over the Constitution. Neither should considerations of the interests of his political party override the duties of his public office through utterances that constitute an ill-advised executive interference with the democratic independence of the judiciary.”

The organization further said, “For the record, the freedom to peacefully demonstrate and petition is expressly granted by the people-driven Constitution of Zimbabwe in Section 59.

The judiciary justifiably performed its functions when it upheld this inalienable constitutional right by reasonably and legitimately granting Court Orders for protests to go ahead.

“Should concerns of violence arise during any protests, the remedy will be for the police to investigate and resolve specific incidences than for the government, let alone police to issue a wholesale ban on the legitimate exercise of the constitutional right to demonstrate robbing citizens of their fundamental rights.”