On Monday,ousted Zanu(PF) secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa recorded a small but significant victory against President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) in the Constitutional Court in the fight to retain his Headlands constituency seat.
Mutasa was recalled from parliament a fortnight ago after his expulsion from Zanu (PF) on allegations of fanning factionalism in the party prior to and after the December 6th National Congress.
Mutasa was relieved of his parliamentary seat together with his nephew Temba Mliswa (Hurungwe West). The duo did not take their humiliation lying down but thought to defend their rights in the courts. They argued their dismissals from both the party and parliament were both unjust and unconstitutional since they were not afforded an opportunity to be heard before any adverse action was taken against them.
Their court challenge forced Zanu (PF) leader Robert Mugabe to expose his darker side. Mugabe on two occasions attacked Mutasa and the judiciary would hear the petition – which the President argued wrongly was outside the jurisdiction of the courts.
Mugabe at Zibagwe said that he would question the educational qualifications of any judge who would hear the matter and involve the courts with the party’s internal matters.
Many legal analysts condemned Mugabe’s utterances as a threat to the constitutionally guaranteed judiciary independence. The Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku was compelled to issue a thinly veiled censure of the President from publicly commenting the merits of cases before the bench. Chidyausiku unambiguously stated the courts would not be swayed by public opinion but has a duty to law and justice.
The Chief Justice in reasserting the court’s independence on Monday ruled that Mutasa’s application was urgent and the full Constitutional Court bench should hear the full arguments on April 1, 2015.
The ruling left Mugabe and Zanu PF with a bleeding nose. They have to file their defence papers on why they think their actions were within the law. If it was a criminal case, it is akin to the accused being put to his defence.
It remains to be seen how Mugabe and Zanu PF will defend their actions but what is clear is that the courts have demonstrated it has jurisdiction to hear the matter and Mutasa on the face of it has a plausible case worth the court’s time.
As the matter stands, Zanu PF will have to have a big fight considering that Mutasa lawyers have gone for broke by appointing Professor Lovemore Madhuku as their lead advocate. The fight will go down to how the court will interpret the statutes. The interpretation of statutes and constitutional law is Professor Madhuku’ forte meaning the legal fight will be bruising if not inflicting mortal political wounds to the litigants.
For now, Mutasa and Mliswa can afford to sleep a little and regain the energy for the real fight on the April Fools’ Day. All litigants by a twist of fate are wondering who the apex court will endorse as ‘certified fools’ in a matter with saw much political capital at stake.