Harare Zimbabweans on Twitter have been watching with awe and a little scepticism Thursday’s Constitutional Court ruling that President Jacob Zuma and Parliament flouted the Constitution by ignoring the Public Protector’s findings on Nkandla.
In a country where the independence of the judiciary during President Robert Mugabe’s more than three decades in office has frequently been questioned, some Zimbabweans saw the South African court’s pay-back-the-money order as worthy of celebration and not a little envy.
Nqaba Matshazi, deputy editor of the privately-owned Newsday paper, tweeted”: “No matter the shortcomings, you cannot not be in awe of South Africa’s democracy, even the highest office is held to account.”
Tweeted Dumisani Muleya, editor of the Zimbabwe Independent: “SA Concourt ruling a lesson to ruling parties everywhere; don’t abuse your majorities, reduce MPs to zombies and then ignore corruption.”
“Zombie” lawmakers are a particularly sore point in South Africa’s struggling northern neighbour at the moment.
The Daily News reported this week that Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke had confirmed a gagging order on some ruling party MPs after complaints that two lawmakers from Mugabe’s own party were “unsettling” ministers with their constant questions.
‘Gives Zimbabweans hope’
Some locals felt it was unlikely a similar ruling against a sitting president could ever be made in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980.
Tweeted @ZimboTheLion: “#ImagineifMogoengwasinZimbabwe. He would be eating at night (Chidyausiku)”.
That was a reference to the perceived wealth of Zimbabwean Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku. Critics suggest he was elevated to his position in 2001 on the basis of his support for Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme.
The chief justice and several other Zimbabwean court judges were reportedly given formerly white-owned farms. Chidyausiku is due to step down in 2017.
Publisher Trevor Ncube, of the Mail and Guardian and Zimbabwe’s Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), quipped: “Zanu-PF would have given [Mogoeng] a farm/s and flat screen TV to shut him up.”
But others saw the South African court process as something that should give Zimbabweans hope.
@AlbertGumbo tweeted: “Zimbabwe, full blown democracy is possible. We, too, can have it.”
“On the bright side at least our Diaspora hopes live another day,” tweeted @CamillaSibanda.