EXILED businessman Mutumwa Mawere has filed an urgent Constitutional Court application seeking an order to stop President Emmerson Mnangagwa from contesting the 23 August presidential election until messy cases against him involving corruption at Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited and Hwange Colliery Company Limited have been resolved.
BRENNA MATENDERE/ NATHAN GUMA
Mawere filed the case at the High Court in Harare on 20 July 2023.
The Mawere case becomes the second one in which a presidential candidate for the 23 August elections is being challenged from contesting.
Former Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukwere, who is a presidential candidate, is being challenged by ruling party activist Lovedale Mangwana from standing in the race for the country’s highest job.
Ironically, Mangwana is regarded as a tortoise on a lamp post representing Mnangagwa’s interests of blocking Kasukuwere from contesting to avoid a possibility of split votes.
Kasukuwere has strong links in Zanu PF where he was once a national commissar.
In the latest development, the other juristic persons who join Mawere in the court application against Mnangagwa are SMM Holdings, THZ Holdings, Africa Resources Ltd, Tap Building Products Ltd and one Tichaona Mupasiri. The six cite Mnangagwa as the only respondent in the case.
Part of the court papers summarising the crux of the legal challenge against Mnangagwa read: “The Applicant (Mawere) prays that the respondent be interdicted and restrained from participating in the 2023 elections pending the resolution of part B of this application.”
In part B of the court papers, Mawere and the other five applicants say they seek the High Court to: “. . . declare that Mnangagwa’s conduct in relation to the affairs of Air Zimbabwe Private Limited and Hwange Colliery through his direct and personal actions including appointing (Former Finance Minister Patrick) Chinamasa as Chairman of Air Zimbabwe under reconstruction was ultra vires the Reconstruction of State-indebted Insolvent companies Act which act precluded the concurrent application of the provisions of the Companies Act, a law of general application) in relation to the affairs of a company whose control and management was divested and deprived pursuant of the Recon Act.”
Under Part B, Mawere also seeks an order that declares that the reconstruction Act offended Zimbabwean public policy and international law and also that the Constitutional Court lacked title to hear and assert any rights acquired pursuant to the Reconstruction Act.
“The conduct of the respondent (Mnangagwa) in intentionally and constructively refusing and failing to give this court his version as to how he knew of an application that was not served on him yet he opposed it (is questionable)… what authority was relied upon (by Mnangagwa) to appoint the firm, DMH attorneys, without the knowledge and involvement of the Attorney-General who in terms of s. 114 of the constitution is the Chief Legal Advisor of the government and would in terms of his duties had the title and jurisdiction to appoint DMH Attorneys and pay for the services, and the conduct within the ambit of section 2(1) of the constitution,” reads another section of the court papers.
Mawere also wants the court to declare that Mnangagwa largely abused the Reconstruction Law to suit personal interests at Hwange Colliery and Air Zimbabwe.
Accordingly, the businessman wants the court to to make an order to the effect that: “. . . the Reconstruction Law being the basis on which the respondent was constructively and intentionally involved in its conception and persecution as stated on paragraphs 71 and 72 of the Respondents affidavit in opposition to Tichaona Mupasiri’s application in terms of section 167 (3) of the constitution under case number CCZ 32/21 in which he stated without providing facts and circumstances of his personal involvement and interest in the affairs of SSM and myself in the matter, was constitutionally invalid and unlawful and as such his conduct fell within the ambit of conduct falling within the ambit of section 2.1 of the constitution.
“. . . that the prosecution under his watch and his direct and personal involvement in the reconstruction of Air Zimbabwe Private Limited and Hwange Colliery Company (Ltd) constitutes conduct that is inconsistent with section 2 (1) of the constitution,” reads the court papers.
The applicants also berated Mnangagwa’s conduct in appointing Chinamasa as chairperson of the Air Zimbabwe board and want the court to outlaw the appointment.
Mawere described the appointment as “illegal and invalid”, adding that Chinamasa was given the job so that Mnangagwa could use him as a weapon to silence his enemies using state power. Mnangagwa and Mawere have a long history of frosty relations dating back to the 2000s when the former lost his stanglehold on the Shabani Mashava Mines.
In 2006, Mawere came out in the open and said his business problems were caused by a Zanu PF faction led by Mnangagwa after he tried to block its front company, Smoothnest (Pvt) Ltd, from securing a loan from First Bank Corporation (FBC) in which he had an interest.
In his first explanation of what went wrong between him and Mnangagwa, who was widely seen as his ally, Mawere said the seizure of his businesses started after he clashed with the Mnangagwa camp over the Smoothnest deal meant to raise funds for the Zanu PF national conference slated in for Masvingo in December 2003.