The High Court yesterday dismissed an application by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa seeking an order barring President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF from interfering with the independence of traditional leaders.
Chamisa had dragged his main rival in next Monday’s crunch national elections to court for remarks that the Zanu PF leader made at a ruling party campaign rally earlier last month.
The MDC leader took exception to Mnangagwa’s utterances at a Zanu PF rally in Mutoko on June 9, where he was quoted saying that chiefs held the keys to the National Assembly for aspiring ruling party MPs — which necessitated that the traditional leaders be treated well.
“If there is a clever MP … if you want to be, let me tell you a secret. Those of you who were greeting me here, the prospective MPs, if you go to the chief in your constituency … you should bring with you a new blanket … and groceries, and a goat in tow.
“You should then say, ‘chief, I want to work in your area of jurisdiction’ … clapping hands, right? … humbling yourself. If they accept your gifts, then you should know you are 50 percent done.
“As for you chiefs, you must always remember there is a political party called Zanu PF. Remember that … as a chief you only have jurisdiction in your area … but Zanu PF is spread across the whole breadth of the country.
“So you must always remember to be one with Zanu PF, to work together for us to have peace and prosperity in our communities,” Mnangagwa told his supporters.
Chamisa, in his application handled by chairperson Morgen Komichi, had said the president’s remarks were “dangerous” and could affect the freeness and fairness of the forthcoming national elections.
Mnangagwa, Zanu PF and the president of the National Council of Chiefs Fortune Charumbira, as well as chief Alfred Tome, were cited as the respondents in the matter.
Electoral Court judge Mary Zimba-Dube dismissed the application yesterday. She said her reasons for the verdict will be issued soon.
The MDC wanted the court to bar Mnangagwa and Zanu PF from “interfering with the independence of traditional leaders”.
“Third respondent (Charumbira) be and is directed to circulate this provisional order widely through the auspices of the National Council of Chiefs and Provincial Assemblies of Chiefs and may seek applicant’s assistance in this respect if he so desires.
“All traditional leaders under the purview of the National Council of Chiefs led by 3rd respondent be and are hereby ordered not to engage in partisan political activities such as attending partisan political rallies and/or uttering partisan political statements,” read other parts of the order being demanded by the MDC.
The MDC also cited another political rally at Sabina Mugabe School, where it says Tome chanted Zanu PF slogans.
“Attendance by chiefs at partisan political party gatherings is a violation of their statutory and constitutional obligations. Uttering political statements and slogans of a certain political party … is equally a violation of the Constitution and the law,” the MDC argued further.