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Zimbabwe Court Dismisses Challenge to Mugabe


Political activist and leader of the Tajamuka/Sesjikile Movement Promise Mkwananzi speaks to the media outside the Constitutional Court in Harare, Zimbabwe, Feb. 8, 2017.

Zimbabwe’s highest court has dismissed a case filed by an activist who argued President Robert Mugabe violated the constitution and is therefore unfit for office.

Robert Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, but the 92-year-old president has faced mounting calls to step down. Protests erupted last year over human rights abuses as the economy sank to new lows.

Opposition activist Promise Mkwananzi filed a court petition alleging the president failed to uphold the constitution during the unrest. In his complaint, Mkwanazi cited cases where Mugabe threatened the judiciary and activists and said he personally owns the security forces.

The Constitutional Court threw out the case Wednesday. The court said the president had not been served the papers.

Mkwananzi’s lawyer, Kudzai Kadzere, told VOA the sheriff was paid but failed to do his duty.

“We feel that this is a very important case for our local jurisprudence, which must be heard on merit, which is why we are going to make a fresh application,” said Kadzere.

FILE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) and his wife Grace look on during the Defense Force's 36th Anniversary celebrations in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 9, 2016.
FILE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) and his wife Grace look on during the Defense Force's 36th Anniversary celebrations in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 9, 2016.

A ruling from the Constitutional Court could trigger impeachment proceedings in parliament, but on Wednesday, Mugabe’s lawyer, Terence Hussein, shrugged off the case.

“His tenure, his mandate has emanated from the people, from an election and I hardly think that the court would want to interfere with that, unless there are very, very good grounds. And I do not think that anyone has made those grounds sufficiently enough,” he said.

Mkwananzi’s organization, #Tajamuka, which means “we are fed up,” says it will not turn down the heat.

“It is not just Promise Mkwananzi versus President of Zimbabwe. When I read the case, I concurred with his submissions that the president has flouted the constitution and must be answerable'" said member Maureen Kadmaunga was in the courtroom Wednesday. "He will not be discouraged, Tajamuka will not be discouraged, and will file again and we'll be here in full support,” said Kadmaunga.

#Tajamuka is taking part in a current initiative known as “21 Days of Activism Zimbabwe,” which is calling on Mugabe to forego expensive birthday celebrations later this month.

An official from the ruling ZANU-PF told VOA the event will not be canceled as Mugabe is revered as Zimbabwe’s “liberator.” The party has backed Mugabe to run for another term in 2018.

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