Failed Zimbabwean presidential candidate and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai risks being summoned before the country’s highest court to answer charges of contempt for “disparaging remarks” he made about the judiciary.Mr Tsvangirai had said there was little difference between the judiciary and Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party. He alleged that even though he was in office as Prime Minister at the time the judges were appointed, he was not consulted, as required by Zimbabwean law. The comments were made after Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party lost the July 31 election and two subsequent related court cases.
Mr. Tsvangirai and the MDC filed a petition in court seeking an annulment of the polls in which President Mugabe scored 61% as against Tsvangirai’s 34% but withdrew the petition a few days later saying they had no confidence for a fair trial in Zimbabwe’s highest court. In a separate suit the MDC sought full details of the results from the electoral commission but this was also thrown out by the court. High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu said the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the matter. He added that the case had no merit because of the applicant’s “gross conduct in soiling the dignity and integrity of this court”.
The courts however went ahead with a ruling, calling the poll ‘free, fair and credible’. Justice Bhunu told reporters that prosecutors would be informed about Tsvangirai’s contemptuous statements for necessary action to be taken. “Scathing and disparaging remarks concerning the entire judiciary of this country” would be referred to either the attorney general’s office or the National Prosecuting Authority for them to consider pressing contempt of court charges, Justice Bhunu said.
Meanwhile regional leaders of the SADC bloc are calling for the US and the EU to lift sanctions imposed on the southern African country. At a meeting over the weekend, Malawi’s President Joyce Banda said “Zimbabweans have suffered enough” and called on the western powers to consider a total lifting of sanctions.
The US however has given no indication of lifting the sanctions.