Justice Priscilla Chigumba, the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

CSOs demand judicial independence in the pending Constitutional Court case

Civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of the United Citizens Alliance (UCA), Zimbabwe Divine Destiny (ZDD), Prayer Network of Zimbabwe (PNZ) and War Veterans for Peace Initiative (WVPI) have insisted that judicial independence should be upheld in the pending Constitutional Court case in which MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is challenging the results of the recent Presidential elections.

“The Civil Society in conjunction with the Church would like to express its deep concerns over the unfolding events in our nation particularly in the body politic. It started with the pre-election period characterised by complaints and a lot of bickering over ZEC’s inability to deliver a free and fair non contestable election result, the voting process that at face value appeared free and fair, the demonstrations by dissatisfied citizens over election results and the subsequent shooting of about 7 civilians by the army to the election dispute now under consideration in the constitutional court, are some of the sad developments that besiege our beleaguered nation Zimbabwe.

“The 2018 election under serious dispute in the constitutional court is a result of the intransigence and ineptitude of the Electoral board particularly its chairperson who did not take heed at warnings flagged by contesting parties early enough,” the CSOs said in a joint statement.

The MDC Alliance has disputed the ZEC results which gave victory to ZANU PF’s Emmerson Mnangangwa. Justice Priscilla Makanyara Chigumba is being held by the CSOs as accountable and responsible for the unnecessary political mess that has even led to the killing of innocent civilians by a trigger happy soldiers of the ZNA. They argue that there was abundant evidence from the onset that the issues raised by many opposition parties pointed to a very contentious election outcome but she was arrogant and unaccommodating to very pertinent concerns.

That behaviour, the CSOs say, led to a dispute in the Constitutional Court arising largely from ZEC’s incompetence to play the impartial referee.

“Nevertheless, the nation looks forward to the judiciary, the third most powerful arm of the state to pick up the pieces, weigh the matter as judiciously as they can, bearing in mind above all, there is God in heaven, the first and Greater Judge is watching. We exhort the 12 judges currently seized with this matter to brook no interference from any quarter be it the executive with its long tentacles nor the opposition or anyone for that matter. This is particularly so given that recently the ED Mnangagwa intimated that he had given some instructions presumably to the courts in the raging Mr T Biti case, a position the nation deemed as clear interference with the independence of the judiciary.

“We therefore in the same breadth would like to warn and urge President Elect Cde ED Mnangagwa to uphold the sanctity of the separation of powers and allow the courts unfettered freedom to adjudicate without fear of any reprisals nor threat from those in power.”

The CSOs reminded the Constitutional Court judges that they are the last frontier in the quest for true democracy and hold the nation’s hopes hence their judgement should be for the love of Zimbabwe and not for power mongers from any of the political divide.

They reminded the bench, the chief justice and his team that, much like what Justice Priscilla Chigumba did, the Constitutional Court’s determination has all the ingredients of peace or instability.

The CSOs put it on record that the once esteemed army celebrated on November 17 2017, has let the nation down. It is shuddering to think how a trained soldier can crouch to take aim at unarmed civilians.

“We still demand answers from those who love to be referred as Commanders in Chief, Commander Generals, VP cum Minsters of Defence, to say is this in keeping with the Oath any of you undertook upon swearing into office. Spare us this blame shifting gibberish political football games where non of you takes responsibility over wanton killing of innocent civilians! What kind of leaders are you? You have no shame nor compassion towards your own people. Other countries protect their own citizens, but here you kill at the slightest of misunderstanding!

“What happened to the ideals of the liberation struggle? We want you to know that as sure as the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, time will come for some of you to account for these wanton murders. The nation cannot continue to experience murder and massacres with no one accounting for these crimes against humanity. To President ED Mnangagwa, it is important to stress that you have not exhibited any departure from your predecessor in terms of fascism and repression. We say hands off form restraining peoples’ civil liberties! The nation takes no pleasure in leaders who indicate right but instead turn left. You rose through a coup on pretext you were going to usher in a new era of freedom and tolerance but you doing exactly the opposite. There was no need absolutely to call on the army as the police were coping with the situation.”




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