A United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean lawyer, Tinomudaishe Chinyoka on Friday filed a Constitutional Court application seeking an interdict to have Parliament investigate whether President Robert Mugabe is still mentally and physically fit to hold office.
Chinyoka’s application follows recent events, particularly in the past year or so that saw the soon to be 92-year-old leader falling at the Harare International Airport, captured on camera sleeping during meetings, lapses in concentration and reading of a wrong speech in Parliament — all within the same year.
The MDC-T activist cited Mugabe, Justice minister and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda as well as Senate president Edna Madzongwe as respondents in the application.
“It is common cause that there has been much speculation in the public media and social discussions about the health and fitness of first respondent [Mugabe] to carry on his duties as mandated by the Constitution,” Chinyoka said in his founding affidavit.
“These speculations have been caused and then aided by a plethora of events, some of which include (a) on December 7 2014, while delivering his keynote address at his Zanu PF [congress], he gave his party slogan as “pasi ne Zanu PF”which is the exact opposite of how he came into the public eye “pamberi ne Zanu PF”.
“First respondent did not appear to be joking when he did this, as that was the last sentence he uttered before sitting down.” Chinyoka also mentioned the same event where Mugabe went on rambling irrelevance before he was handed a note by his wife Grace, asking him to sit down.
“…and then he told delegates that his wife was telling him to sit down as he had spoken for too long,” Chinyoka argued.
He said that showed Mugabe was no longer fully “autonomous” and was under the influence and sway of his wife, a situation Chinyoka argued would be “incompatible with the execution of his duties”.
Chinyoka also cited Mugabe’s fall at the airport last year as another sign that he was no longer fit to continue as president.
“On or about February 4 2015, while returning from a trip to Ethiopia; first respondent fell awkwardly while descending from a podium at the airport.
“From the pictures of the event, there does not appear to have been any obstacle that caused this fall and the awkwardness of the fall appeared to be inconsistent with this obstacle-free environment.”
“The suggestion from this episode is that first respondent may no longer be physically fit, thus putting into question his fitness for the job of President of the Republic.
“On November 21 2015, Dr Grace, first respondent’s wife, told a meeting of Zanu PF supporters that she had plans to buy him a special wheelchair so that he can remain in power as long as he can speak.
“Being the only person with intimate knowledge of first respondent’s physical health, it is my submission that for his wife to talk about buying him a wheelchair, there has to be some medical reason that suggests that his physical ability to mobilise on his own is seriously impaired.”
Chinyoka also cited an incident where Mugabe read a speech in Parliament which he had read while giving the state of the nation address three weeks earlier.
“Any person with their mental alertness intact would have recognised a speech as they have read only three weeks previously. Media reports have confirmed that first respondent is a frequent patient at Gleneagles hospital in Singapore,” he added.
“Reports have linked him since at least 2011 with this hospital. I believe whatever it is that requires first respondent to visit this clinic cannot be social but medical, anything else would not require the security and veil of secrecy that saw his wife push away a reporter, as evidenced in the attached article.”
Chinyoka also cited “memory lapse” on the part of Mugabe and cases where he has been captured on camera sleeping at international meetings.
Chinyoka wants an investigation to ascertain whether Mugabe was still fit to govern.
“I submit that in an open and transparent democracy, the mere fact of a president going into hospital for example, or falling in public, or being routinely asleep on the job, or being told to get off the podium by his wife and complying, or suggesting that he is bullied at home, or falling all over the place, or reading the wrong speech and droning on for an hour without realising it, should, at the very least, lead to a consideration of whether or not Section 97 is engaged.”