FORMER Zanu PF youth leader Kudzanai Chipanga says Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga should be charged with treason over his utterances on November 13, 2017 where he threatened army intervention to stop former President Robert Mugabe from firing him as the head of the army.
Chipanga made the remarks in his founding affidavit which he filed alongside his application at the High Court, where he is seeking a review of the ruling by Harare magistrate Edwin Marecha dismissing a demand for further particulars, including a statement made by Chiwenga on the eve of the coup that toppled Mugabe.
The former Makoni West MP is being charged with communicating falsehoods, causing dissatisfaction in the army and undermining public confidence in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF).
The charges emanated from a Press conference he gave at the Zanu PF headquarters where he was responding to Chiwenga’s threats.
Chiwenga was the commander of the defence forces on November 13, 2017 when he issued a written statement criticising Mugabe, a week after the then President had fired Mnangagwa as his deputy.
“The current purging and cleansing process in Zanu PF which so far is targeting mostly members associated with our liberation history is a serious cause for concern for us in the defence forces,” Chiwenga said at a Press conference held at the army’s KG IV (renamed Josiah Magama Tongogara) headquarters in Harare at the time.
“We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in. The current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith.”
Chiwenga said the army could step in to “stop reckless utterances by politicians from the ruling party denigrating the military which is causing alarm and despondency within the rank and file; that the current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith; that the known counter-revolutionary elements who have fomented the current instability in the party must be exposed and fished out; and as the party goes for the extraordinary congress, members must go with equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.”
He was flanked by the Zimbabwe National Army leadership. Chipanga held a Press conference the following day responding to Chiwenga’s threats, daring the army and vowed that the youths would die for Mugabe, statements now constituting the criminal charges against him.
Chipanga was abducted by the military during the coup and assaulted before being forced to apologise live on television.
Chipanga and his co-accused, Innocent Hamandishe and Rodney Dangarembizi, made an application before Marecha seeking an order to compel the State to avail to them a statement by Chiwenga which the State alleges was used by Chipanga to castigate the Vice-President.
However, Marecha is said to have dismissed Chipanga’s application on the basis that what the State had provided him and his colleagues was enough for them to draft their defence.
“For instance, the indictment alleged that I (Chipanga) gave a statement at a Press conference referring to an earlier statement by Commander, Defence Forces, Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga. The statement by Chiwenga becomes self-evidently important to us. If for instance, the statement by Chiwenga was seditious, which it was, what Chiwenga then said was criminal,” Chipanga said.
“That aspect would then absolve me of any wrong doing. This is because contrary to what the State alleges. It is in fact Chiwenga who is the complainant in this case. He cannot benefit from his own wrong-doing. The same argument goes to the rest of the requested particulars. Once provided, they absolve us.
“The particulars then become necessary for our defences. The respondents (State and Marecha) must not be allowed to dictate how we conduct our defences or to decide for us which information is necessary for our defences.”
In his application, Chipanga said on April, 1 2019, his lawyers wrote a letter to the Prosecutor-General (PG) requesting certain particulars to enable him to prepare for the trial but the State failed to do so.
He said the investigating officer was called to give evidence and he told the court he was in a position to supply Chipanga with the information he needed but only if he was directed by the court to do so.
Apparently, the magistrate did not do as such, arguing the requested particulars were not necessary.