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Mnangagwa court papers vanish

by Staff rpeorter
17 May 2018 at 07:26hrs | Views
A BID by three human rights and opposition activists to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa's right to hold office has reportedly hit a brickwall after their Constitutional Court application was clandestinely withdrawn by suspected State security agents ahead of the case's hearing this month.

MDC-T activist Linda Masarira and two others, Bongani Nyathi and Vusimuzi Sibanda, had approached the High Court on March 1 this year challenging Mnangagwa's ascendancy, claiming he assumed power illegally after pushing out former President Robert Mugabe through a coup last November.

The activists argued that Mnangagwa's leadership was illegitimate, as he was catapulted to power following a coup.

The matter had been set for hearing before Chief Justice Luke Malaba on May 24.

Mnangagwa took over power last November after a military-backed operation that former President Robert Mugabe has since described as a coup, despite Justice George Chiweshe ruling that it was constitutional.

Masarira, who is now spokesperson for Thokozani Khupe's breakaway faction of the MDC-T, yesterday said she discovered that her application was missing after she went to court to enquire on requirements for filing heads of arguments.

She claimed she was advised on May 10 that the matter would be heard in Justice Malaba's chambers.

The three are self-represented after their lawyers allegedly declined to take up the matter for "security reasons".

"Take notice that the above application will be heard before Malaba CJ in chambers on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at 11am or so soon thereafter as counsel may be heard," part of the notice of hearing read.

The three were given up to May 18 at 4pm to submit their heads of arguments.

But Masarira said: "You know, I don't now have lawyers. I went there today (yesterday) to enquire (sic) the court processes for us to file some heads of argument.
"I was shocked when I was told by court officials why I was doing so when we had withdrawn the matter. I told them we did not withdraw the matter and they showed me a letter of withdrawal purported to have been written by the three of us."

She insisted that she did not withdraw the case, adding her co-applicants could not have done so either because they are both based in neighbouring South Africa and have never been back home since March 1.

Masarira claimed that court officials refused to give her a copy of her purported withdrawal affidavit, which had forged signatures.

"They told us that they could not give us a copy of our own withdrawal, arguing that we had it. There were three signatures despite that my co-applicants have not been in the country and I, personally, did not withdraw the matter," she said.

Masarira said she was going to challenge the "deceit by the courts".

"This is the highest court on the land and we experience such a thing? It's terrible and we are going to challenge it," she said.

"This is really shocking indeed and the judiciary should be answerable to this. We will not allow anyone to manipulate legal processes before the courts by forging signatures and filing papers without our consent."

Judicial Services Commission acting secretary Walter Chikwana last night declined to comment on the matter before seeing the court record.


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