HARARE – A Zanu PF youth activist who is challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendancy after the 2017 military coup says he is receiving death threats amid a spirited campaign to cause the collapse of the intriguing High Court case.
Sybeth Musengezi caused a furore last year when he approached the High Court challenging the way Mnangagwa was allowed by Zanu PF to succeed the late Robert Mugabe as leader of the ruling party after the coup.
Musengezi was recently summoned by the police “for an interview” over an unspecified matter.
The activist says he has been receiving death threats, but quickly pointed out that he would not be intimidated to drop his court challenge or flee the country before the matter was heard.
Musengezi’s lawyer Nqobani Sithole said there was a choreographed onslaught against his client to reveal his whereabouts, with former Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption commissioner Goodson Nguni also filing papers at the High Court recently demanding the same.
Nguni, who is the president of the Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations, filed a joinder in the case on behalf of Mnangagwa in January even though he was not cited in Musengezi’s court application.
In an answering affidavit filed on March 16, Nguni claimed that Musengezi had skipped the border and called on the courts to force him to disclose his whereabouts.
“I submit that an inference should be drawn that the first respondent is not even within the Republic of Zimbabwe, neither is he the one attesting the affidavits considering that he is wanted by law enforcement.
“The one respondent is more visible on foreign media,” Nguni submitted through his lawyers T K Hove.
Nguni cited Musengezi, Zanu PF, Mnangagwa, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, Zanu PF secretary for finance Patrick Chinamasa, former vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko and former party secretary for finance Ignatius Chombo as first to seventh respondents respectively.
“Again, the 1st respondent must prove his actual place of residence as required by the 2nd respondent for membership,” he said. The 2nd applicant is a member of good standing who pays subscriptions and has a known address of service.
“The 1st respondent is wasting the courts time since his address is non-existent and impossible to execute if costs are awarded against him.”
But Musengezi’s lawyer said Nguni’s demands were unheard of, and an attempt to intimidate and harm his client so that he skips the borders and collapse the court challenge.
He said: “It doesn’t make any sense at all. The litigant shared his address with his lawyer, and that is enough. Why would they want the address of the litigant, to do what?
“We’re always in court for different cases, but we do not get asked such. We’re left guessing that this is an attempt to scare him to flee the country.
“What do they want at his residence? Why the sudden interest in his address before the matter goes to court?”
Musengezi added: “I have received countless threats on normal calls, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.
“I won’t be intimidated to leave the country. Zimbabwe is my home and if I’m to die I’ll die in my motherland. They have tried all tricks, including threatening me with arrest, but I am not moved by any of that.”
Musengezi is challenging the constitutionality of processes that saw Mnangagwa assuming the leadership of the ruling party and country’s presidency after the coup.
In opposing papers, the Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case, adding that Mnangagwa enjoyed presidential immunity.
Musengezi cited Zanu PF, Mnangagwa, Mpofu, Chinamsa, Mphoko and Chombo as the first to fifth respondents respectively in his application.
Zanu PF is also claiming that the politician is being sponsored by exiled former minister Saviour Kasukuwere who has declared an interest to challenge Mnangagwa in next year’s elections.