Fit to rule at 93?

Constitutional Court to rule on Mugabe's 'fitness' to continue as president

News24 by Frank Chikowore

14 January 2017

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. (File: AP)

Harare - A Zimbabwean court is set to decide whether President Robert Mugabe is still fit to lead the troubled southern African country, given his advanced age and alleged wilful violation of the nation's governing charter. 

Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court announced on Friday that it will make its determination early next month, following an application filed by Promise Mkwananzi, leader of a social movement calling itself #Tajamuka. 

"Please take notice that the above constitutional application will be heard and determined by the Constitutional Court at Harare on Wednesday the 8th day of February 2017 at 09:30 or soon thereafter as counsel may be heard," said the court's registrar in a letter to Mkwananzi that was copied to the Attorney General's Office. Mugabe was cited as the respondent.

In his founding affidavit before the Concourt, Mkwananzi argued that Mugabe, who turns 93 on February, was wilfully violating the national constitution in many respects, including gross human rights abuses. The activist argued that many Zimbabweans were now leaving in fear of their president, who has threatened anyone with divergent views "to leave the country and in those countries that are sponsoring them".

'Old and frail'

Mkwananzi also argued that at 92, Mugabe could not fully perform his duties as president of Zimbabwe. The nonagenarian's health was now also a cause for concern as he often travelled to Singapore for treatment of an eye cataract. 

The prominent activist told News24, following the court's hearing announcement, that time was up for Mugabe to leave state power. Mugabe has in the past, however, vowed not to leave office, saying he has the electoral mandate of the Zimbabwean people who voted him into office in polls that were described by the opposition as "fundamentally flawed". 

Said Mkwananzi: "He (Mugabe) is old and frail and no longer has the agility and concentration to superintend over critical affairs of the state. His incapacity (to lead) poses a real danger to the stability and security of the country. He must accept his fate and go to rest." 

Already, factions battling to succeed Mugabe when he eventually leaves office have emerged within the veteran leader's ruling Zanu-PF party. His deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was reportedly leading a camp calling itself "Team Lacoste" while a group of young Turks code-named Generation or G40 wanted to torpedo Mngangagwa's ambitions by elevating First Lady Grace Mugabe to the country's top post.

Floundering economy 

#Tajamuka led a series of anti-government protests last year and also worked together with other social movements such as exiled cleric Evan Mawarire's  #ThisFlag to paralyse government business after calling for a two-day national shutdown that saw authorities arresting dozens of activists nationwide. They were charged with public violence and their cases are yet to be finalised.  

Mkwananzi said that his organisation was mobilising Zimbabweans to cripple Mugabe's government this year amid a floundering economy, rising poverty levels, company closures and unemployment.

"We are going to increase our numbers in the streets of the country to force Mugabe to leave office," warned the militant activist.