High Court judge Justice George Chiweshe has ruled that “Operation Restore Legacy” which was mounted by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and resulted in a military takeover of power was Constitutionally permissible and lawful. The military takeover of power ultimately resulted in the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe stepped down on Tuesday, to make way for his former deputy, now President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In passing judgement, Justice Chiweshe ruled that the military takeover was necessary to prevent unauthorised people from exercising executive function and to stop former president Robert Mugabe’s abdication of his functions. The ruling was made on Friday, in a case which was brought by Joseph Evurath Sibanda and Leonard Chikomba. Then-President Robert Mugabe, the Minister of Defence, Commander Defence Forces of Zimbabwe, and the Attorney General were the First, Second, Third and Fourth Respondents respectively.
Justice Chiweshe in his ruling said:
1. The actions of the Defence Forces (Zimbabwe Defence Forces of Zimbabwe) in intervening to stop the take-over of first respondent’s (Mugabe’s) constitutional functions by those around him are constitutionally permissible and lawful in terms of Section 212 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in that:
a. They arrest first respondent’s abdication of constitutional function, and
b.They ensured that non-elected individuals do not exercise executive functions which can only be exercised by elected constitutional functionaries.
2. The actions of the Defence Forces being constitutionally valid, the second respondent has the right to take all such measures and undertake all such acts as will bring the desired end to its intervention.
The case has been overtaken by events as Mugabe had already resigned when the ruling was made, however, it has the effect of legitimising the actions undertaken by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.