HARARE – Some war veterans and youths sympathetic to embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru are apparently considering dragging President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to court in a bid to stop the party’s forthcoming congress.
The mooted legal action is anchored on a litany of “unprocedural” amendments to the party’s constitution, the Daily News has been told.
A source within the aggrieved group said they felt “morally bound” to try and stop the congress as the processes leading to what had been billed an “elective” meeting was “unprocedural”.
However, insiders said it was unlikely that such a move could succeed.
But it has been established that according to the Zanu PF constitution, the party’s central committee, its highest decision-making body, is the one responsible for changing the constitution, not the politburo which has fronted the changes.
Prominent legal mind, Alex Magaisa confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that there were strong grounds for aggrieved parties to challenge the party’s constitutional amendments on the basis of the unprocedural process followed.
He also pointed out that there were gross anomalies in the way the votes of no confidence on at least nine party provincial chairpersons had been conducted, saying their axing needed the endorsement of the central committee, not the politburo.
Already dubbed a “damp squib congress” by many analysts because of the controversial amendments at the 11th hour in a bid to thwart Mujuru’s political ambitions, concerned cadres say they are considering making an urgent High Court application to stop it, to “save Zanu PF’s liberation values”.
This comes as some party members have voiced concern with Mugabe’s alleged “one-man rule” which has reportedly seen him impose on Zanu PF the controversial amendments.
This is also taking place as powerful allies of the beleaguered VP have either been sacked from the party or suspended, while some have controversially lost their bid to return to the party’s influential central committee, amid complaints of intimidation and manipulation of processes.
“Zanu PF has a constitution and it must be followed,” another source in the aggrieved camp said.
“We are going to take the case to the country’s constitutional court and stop this farce of a congress.”
Although it is not yet clear whether the widowed VP, who fondly calls Mugabe “father”, will sanction the court route, legal experts say any aggrieved member of Zanu PF can drag the ruling party to court.
“In terms of Section 253, the power to amend the constitution is vested in the central committee and not in the politburo,” the Kent University law lecturer said.
“Therefore, to the extent that the amendments have been done by the politburo, the Mujuru camp could argue that they are ultra vires, that is, that they are beyond the powers of the politburo and therefore unlawful.
“Secondly, Section 253 provides that while constitutional amendments are done by the central committee, such amendments are subject to ratification by congress.
“In this regards, 253(4) provides that all proposed amendments must be forwarded to the secretary for administration at least three months before the date of the meeting of the central committee at which the amendment is to be considered.
“Subsection (5) further provides that the proposed amendments must be circulated to the provinces at least two months before the date of meeting,” Magaisa added.
He said it was clear that the amendments Mugabe forced on the politburo at the instigation of his wife Grace did not follow constitutional procedure.
He said the timelines had not been satisfied, adding that unless there was an overriding provision elsewhere which gave them the power to act as they have done, it meant that the current amendments were unprocedural.
He added that Zimbabweans should understand that Section 68 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe protects the right to fair administrative conduct.
Section 68 states that, “Every person has a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair.”
It goes further to state in subsection (2) that, “Any person whose right, freedom, interest or legitimate expectation has been adversely affected by administrative conduct has the right to be given promptly and in writing the reasons for the conduct.”
The constitutional law expert said persons who believed that their rights or legitimate expectations had been violated were entitled to seek constitutional protection in terms of the supreme law of the land.