Promise Mkwananzi, a civil and human rights activist leading the #Tajamuka campaign, is plotting a lawsuit against President Robert Mugabe for allegedly violating the Zimbabwean constitution.
Tajamuka mobilised hundreds of protesters in July against the Mugabe government over unpopular policies, bad governance and an ailing economy.
Security sector agents who are suspected to have included police, army and secret service details descended heavily on the protesters and Mkwananzi was arrested and is facing trial for reportedly causing violence.
Unfazed, Mkwananzi has prepared an application to the Constitutional Court, citing Mugabe and the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister as the first and second respondents, respectively.
However, Mugabe has not appointed a Justice minister since the 2013 general elections when he reshuffled his cabinet.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who held that position before his elevation in late 2014, is overseeing the portfolio.
In the draft application, Mkwananzi appeals to Section 167 (2) (d) of the Constitution read in conjunction with Section 90 (1) and (2) that spell out presidential constitutional obligations.
Section 90 of the constitution obligates the president to “uphold, defend, obey and respect the constitution as the supreme law of the nation’ and to ensure that the national charter and other laws are observed.
The president must promote unity and peace for the benefit of and well-being of citizens and ‘ensure protection of the fundamental human rights and freedoms and the rule of law” as well as the diversity of citizens.
“Accordingly,” noted Mkwananzi in his draft application, “any conduct by the president that contradicts the above duties amounts to a contravention of his constitutional mandate”.
The applicant said their demonstrations in July were met with security sector brutality that resulted in “the death of children and physical abuse of women” while protesters were unlawfully arrested in prior peaceful protests and petitions.
“It now seems as if our honourable president now views everyone who requests his audiences’ to air a different view as an enemy.
“I and many other colleagues now live in fear of the 1st Respondent. We cannot air our views as anything, including a request for employment or food, can now be regarded treasonous or subversive to the 1st Respondent or the government, and thus considered a crime.
“The 1st respondent verbally admitted that the ‘police’ are his and he will use them for such. It is these utterances by the 1st Respondent that form the factual basis of this application. The 1st Respondent through various speeches has now taken it upon himself to subvert the constitution and our fundamental human rights.
“It is his utterances of an intension and threat to disenfranchise citizens of their fundamental human rights that has forced me to approach this court to declare such utterances inconsistent with the 1st Respondent’s duties and obligations in terms of section 90 of the constitution,” said Mkwananzi.
He accused Mugabe of infringing on citizens’ freedoms of expression and conscience for his utterances against protesters, among the Evan Mawarire, a pastor who he said must leave the country for allegedly causing violence.
“The man who is supposed to unite the nation is now at the forefront of creating divisions and factions among the citizenry. Such conduct is not becoming of a head of state that is enjoined by the constitution to embrace the diversity of the citizens,” said Mkwananzi.