Abusing the courts, the making of a legal nuisance

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

Tafara Shumba Correspondent
A UK-based Zimbabwean lawyer and Government critic, Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, filed a Constitutional Court application on Friday seeking a court order to have Parliament probe President Mugabe’s health to see if he is still in top form for the presidential office.

Last month, Chinyoka and the MDC-T Member of Parliament for Zengeza East, Alexio Masundire, approached the highest court seeking to have the National Heroes’ Act declared unconstitutional and to bar President Mugabe and Zanu-PF from further declaring heroes.

In the same month, Chinyoka took President Mugabe to the same court challenging the constitutionality of declaring December 22 a national holiday over a Unity Accord signed between Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu. None of his applications has yet been heard.

While it is the right of everyone to seek recourse in the courts of law, it should be appreciated that the Constitutional Court is saddled with more serious cases. With his other court applications against Government still pending, Chinyoka has become a legal nuisance and he seems intent on using all legal avenues to demean the President and Government.

Chinyoka is a half-done product of the University of Zimbabwe law faculty. He has a shocking limited understanding of the Zimbabwean Constitution. A constitutional lawyer and law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, dismissed his case with disdain, saying it had no legal basis.

By filing such trivial court applications, Professor Madhuku said, Chinyoka was abusing and belittling the Constitutional Court. He paralleled Chinyoka’s application to a man who, after being ditched by a wife, goes to the court asking it to force the estranged wife to love him. Professor Madhuku said Chinyoka’s case was rather a political issue that could be taken to Parliament or to the people.

Nevertheless, it is a lost cause. Professor Madhuku is on record saying it’s practically impossible to impeach the President under the current Constitution.

“It is impossible to impeach him under our current Constitution to remove the President from office. For you to remove the President as parliamentarians, you will need to do it through what is called an impeachment. Just to get the matter to be debated in Parliament you will need one third of the total membership of Parliament to be able to introduce a motion for that debate … About 90 MPs will have to sign that to have the matter to be introduced.

“If the motion is debated and Parliament needs to vote to remove the President, that vote must be supported by two thirds of the total membership which includes the Senate. So, you will need 270 MPs plus 80 Senators. Two thirds of that kind of number. You will need over 200 something MPs in the country and all these are MPs that are drawn from Zanu-PF. Opposition numbers in Parliament have gone down,” said Professor Madhuku.

Chinyoka should have considered these factors if he was a lawyer worth his salt. Otherwise he could have spared himself the embarrassment. Most of the cases he cited in his affidavit as evidence that President Mugabe no longer has the mental and physical capacity to govern Zimbabwe are ridiculous.

There are young people, as young as Chinyoka, even young presidents across the globe, who also at one time read wrong speeches, had a slip of the tongue, fallen and slumbered. That cannot be a symptom of physical or mental incapacity.

It is shocking that the lawyer finds a case in President Mugabe’s routine medical check-ups. In any case, he always receives a clean bill of health whenever he goes for these check-ups. He needs to be told that President Mugabe can stand for over an hour while delivering speeches at both local and international forums. This is no mean feat, which, perhaps Chinyoka cannot withstand.

Undisputedly, the President has been blessed with longevity. However, age has not dented a bit on his mental capacity. Like wine, his mental faculty matured with age. If he was no longer fit, he could have not inspired the confidence of member states of the regional and continental bodies where he had a year’s stint as the boss. He magically steered the Africa Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) during his tenure at the helm.

In a democracy like Zimbabwe, a president is changed through the ballot. Zimbabweans, over 60 percent of them, gave President Mugabe a mandate to govern them and their choice must be respected. They were alive to his age when they overwhelmingly retained him in power. Therefore, the Constitutional Court or Parliament cannot subvert a people’s choice.

President Mugabe’s reign ends in 2023. If there are people who no longer want him in power, 2018 is nigh. If they cannot defeat him in an electoral plebiscite as Morgan Tsvangirai recently admitted, they must just be patient for the due constitutional process to take its course in 2023.

Nobody must take Chinyoka seriously. He is a confused person who is trying to get political recognition through the Machiavellian way. He is a political turncoat who after dining with the MDC since 1999, shifted his allegiance to Zanu-PF in 2013 with the anticipation that he would get a soft landing and get a quick passage to riches. He is an opportunist who waits to see the direction of the political wind.

This is the same Chinyoka who in 2013 said he had abandoned the MDC-T because it “ran a foolish campaign buttressed on making fun of the president’s age”. Today Chinyoka is making a fool of himself by repeating what he denounced just two years ago.

“They think removing Mugabe is a cause, I say long live our President,” said Chinyoka while announcing his intention to join Zanu-PF, a decision that was not motivated by any principle.

Chinyoka is haunted by a dirty history. He is one of the students who were arrested after they torched a laboratory at Dadaya High School. He escaped jail by a whisker courtesy of the Presidential pardon.

When he was still the University of Zimbabwe Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Chinyoka abused the union’s funds. He was subsequently booted out through a vote of no confidence.

He also left Zimbabwe for the UK under a cloud after he abused client’s money. He also bolted out of the country with children from a previous marriage without a lawful custody. That’s Chinyoka for you.

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  • Grace Jones

    why 2023. Its 2018