‘Courts can’t review Mugabe’s decision’

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s lawyer Terence Hussein has said that courts cannot review the decision by the head of State and Zanu PF to expel the former Masvingo Provincial minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti from the ruling party.

Hussein was making submissions in an application filed by Bhasikiti in which he is challenging his expulsion from Zanu PF, arguing that due process was not followed.

Before the matter could be heard on merits, Hussein raised preliminary points.

“A political party’s decision is not reviewable,” Hussein argued.

“The applicant (Bhasikiti) did not exhaust internal remedies.

“Our Constitution guarantees freedom of association... The freedom of association with one another also necessarily means that a political party must be given space to do whatever it is that it does.”

Hussein argued that individuals should not always run to the court to seek recourse without exhausting internal remedies.

“You have your constitution, resolve your issues. Do not bring other institutions into play.

“A political party is a voluntary organisation of persons of like-mind and principles who want to associate with each other to fulfil their own personal and collective needs.

“What happens in Zanu PF or any other political party is of little consequence to public issue.”

He further said that Bhasikiti failed comply with Rule 18 of the High Court rules, which states that, “No summons or other civil process of the court may be sued out against the President or against any of the judges of the High Court without the leave of the court granted on court application being made for that purpose.”

Hussein described Bhasikiti’s submissions that Zanu PF was a public body capable of being sued as “ridiculous”.

Bhasikiti’s lawyer Tendai Biti said Zanu PF was using laws of the jungle and was failing to uphold the law.

“The tone of the respondent’s arguments is a plea to this honourable court by hook and crook to say leave us alone, we are above the law, no one can scrutinise us,” Biti said. “It’s the law of the jungle.

“The law of the jungle does not exist anymore. Dog eat dog does not exist anymore and the respondents, no matter how powerful they are, they are not above the law.”

He said Mugabe and Zanu PF were clutching at straws by raising preliminary issues before the matter could be heard on merits, adding that the respondents were in court with dirty hands.

Biti said Mugabe and Zanu PF had failed to produce minutes of a politburo meeting where a decision to expel his client was made.

“What you have is a bunch of useless papers meant to make you believe that there was a vote of no confidence,” Biti said.

He further said Mugabe was cited in the application as a political actor not as the country’s president, contrary to Hussein’s argument that Rule 18 was not followed, adding that a political party was also capable of being sued.

High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu reserved ruling on the preliminary points.

Bhasikiti, who was Mwenezi East National Assembly member, was expelled alongside other Zanu PF stalwarts on May 21 this year for his alleged involvement in a plot to topple Mugabe.

This resulted in Bhasikiti losing his National Assembly seat after the party wrote to the speaker, Jacob Mudenda, notifying him of the expulsion.

Bhasikiti tried in vain to stop his expulsion from Parliament through an urgent application in the High Court which was however, dismissed.

Axed minister tackles Mugabe

HARARE - The High Court hearing of an application by former Masvingo Provincial minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti in which he has dragged President Robert Mugabe to court challenging his expulsion from the ruling party was yesterday deferred to today.

High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu, who is handling the case, postponed the matter to allow parties to file heads of argument.

The postponement will allow Mugabe’s lawyer Terence Hussein to file opposing papers to the application.

Bhasikiti, who was Mwenezi East National Assembly member, was expelled alongside other Zanu PF stalwarts on May 21 for his alleged involvement in a plot to topple President Robert Mugabe.

This resulted in Bhasikiti losing his National Assembly seat after the party wrote to the speaker, Jacob Mudenda, notifying him of the expulsion.

Bhasikiti tried in vain to stop his expulsion from Parliament through an urgent application in the High Court which was, however, dismissed.

Last Thursday, Bhasikiti managed to score a minor victory after Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku issued an order that by-elections for his constituency should not be held before July 31.

Bhasikiti, who is represented by Tendai Biti, cited Mugabe and Zanu PF as respondents, argued that the two parties had blatantly abused his rights.

In the application, Bhasikiti wants the court to review Zanu PF’s decision to expel him arguing his constitutional rights had been breached.

“The decision to expel me, taken by the second respondent (Zanu PF) in a meeting chaired by first respondent (Mugabe), is null and void,” Bhasikiti said.

He said he was not subjected to a due process warranting his expulsion.

“I was not charged of any offence before any disciplinary hearing, I have not given my side of the story… I do not even know why I was expelled,” Bhasikiti said.

He told the court that he had a right to be heard, which right he said was abused.

“In short it is my respectful contention that the respondents’ action is unlawful in that my right to be heard, as guaranteed by the common law, Constitution and the Administrative Justice Act (Chapter 10:28) has been infringed,” Bhasikiti argued.

He accused all the politburo members who handled his case of being grossly biased, adding that the politburo does not have the power to make such a conclusion, which he said was contrary to the Zanu PF constitution.

Bhasikiti argued that a National Disciplinary Committee should have been set up to hear his case.

“I have not been given any opportunity, reasonable or otherwise, of making any representations. I have not been provided with any reasons for the action taken against me,” he said.

He said since August last year, the party was on an onslaught against all members who were perceived to be aligned to the former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s faction, adding that he had been included in that category.

“As a result of this, I have been attacked and fired from government,” he said.

“The responsible persons in the politburo in particular persons like Patrick Chinamasa and others, have been at the forefront of attacking those like myself labelled to be part of the ‘Gamatox’ faction.”

Judge recuses self from Chikumba’s bail hearing

HARARE - High Court judge Garainesu Mawadze has recused himself from hearing a bail application filed by jailed former Air Zimbabwe boss Peter Chikumba, who is challenging his conviction and seven-year prison term.

Mawadze said he had handled the matter before when Chikumba and his co-accused Grace Pfumbidzayi appeared before him with an application for bail pending their trial.

“I have asked that this matter be placed before a different judge,” Mawadze said.

“I once dealt with this matter in the bail pending trial in which I made certain observations…,” he said, adding that his views in the matter still stand.

He said it was in the interests of justice for the matter to be placed before a different judge to get another legal reasoning.

Mawadze previously granted Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi bail, before their trial hearing.

Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi were initially jailed for 10 years each by Harare regional magistrate Fadzai Mtombeni who went on to suspend three years on condition of good behaviour after convicting the two on charges of abusing their offices.

Charges against the two arose after an anomaly was discovered pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited (Navistar) in respect of aviation insurance premiums.

The State accused the duo of enlisting the services of Navistar to provide aviation and insurance cover without going to tender after terminating the services of other existing companies.

Chikumba, through his lawyer Admire Rubaya and Oliver Marwa, challenged Mtombeni’s ruling, arguing that she erred at law.

“With all due respect to the court a quo, there is no doubt that justice was miscarried in this matter resulting in the improper conviction of the applicant (Chikumba),” Rubaya said.

“The applicant clearly committed no criminal offence at all and the charge he was called upon to answer was never established.”

He said the allegations against his client were entirely false, adding that Chikumba was convicted on the basis of mere speculation and conjecture.