A Zimbabwean court has ruled that former president Robert Mugabe voluntarily stepped down resulting in current president Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over the presidential seat in terms of the country’s laws.
According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, Chief Justice Luke Malaba made the ruling on Monday following a complaint filed by two opposition parties the Liberal Democrats and Revolutionary Freedom Fighters and political activists Bongani Nyathi, Linda Masarira and Vusumuzi Sibanda.
They wanted the court to nullify the inauguration of Mnangagwa last November after Mugabe resigned when he was pressed by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and parliament, which had started impeachment proceedings against him alleging that he was no longer in control of the government as he was being used by the so-called Generation 40 of the ruling Zanu PF party to transfer power to his youthful wife, Grace.
In his ruling, Justice Malaba said Mugabe carefully applied his mind and decided to step down instead of facing impeachment.
He was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “The former president’s written notice of resignation speaks for itself. It sets the context in which it was written. He candidly reveals the fact that he had communicated with the Speaker of Parliament at 1353 hours. In the communication, the former president expressed to the Speaker his desire to resign from the office of President.
“The Speaker must have advised him that for the resignation to have the legal effect of bringing his presidency to an end, it had to be communicated to him by means of a written notice. A written notice of resignation addressed to the Speaker and signed by the President, on the face of it, meets the first requirement of constitutional validity,” said the Chief Justice.”
Chief Justice Malaba added that Mugabe appended his signature to the letter he sent to the Speaker of parliament.
“What the former president said in the written notice of resignation is the best evidence available of the state of his mind at the time. He said he was free to express his will to resign. Not only does the former president declare in the written notice that he made the decision voluntarily, he gives reasons for doing so in clear and unambiguous language.
“He said he was motivated by the desire to ‘ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and sustainability’”.
He said Mugabe’s resignation complied with Section 96 (1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution and as a result Mnangagwa’s assumption of power was in accordance with the law.
The chief justice noted that the applicants’ actions amounted to abuse of court processes as they made “malicious allegations of improper conduct against the officials in the registry of the Constitutional Court, accusing them of colluding with State security agents to make documents relating to their case disappear.
“They knew that the allegations were false. They conducted themselves in this manner to attract publicity for political reasons.”
Mugabe claims that he was removed from office by the military, aided by Mnangagwa and his Team Lacoste faction of the ruling party, to step down.
He was not available for comment.