By Anna Chibamu
POLL based NGO, Election Resource Centre (ERC) has piled more pressure on under fire Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira through demands the Zanu PF apologist should be charged for contempt of court.
Charumbira is under fire for declaring just before the 2018 harmonised elections that traditional leaders were behind then Zanu PF presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to keep his job in elections he later won.
His utterances elicited a court challenge by ERC which demanded he retracted the statement arguing it was in violation of the country’s laws which prescribe non-partisanship among traditional leaders.
A subsequent court ruling directed the controversial legislator should publicly retract his statement, something he is yet to comply with.
At a media briefing Monday, ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini said Charumbira should play ball and retract his statement or risk contempt of court charges.
“We have a court order which demands that Chief Charumbira must retract his statements and the Minister of Justice Ziyambi Ziyambi should institute disciplinary proceedings against Chief Charumbira.
“We are going to be pursuing possibly contempt of court charges against Chief Charumbira if he fails to act as guided by the constitution.
“If his decision is to disrespect the constitution, let him come out and publicly state that he is disregarding the court order.
“He has agreed to submit himself to the courts by filing opposing papers through the courts. Failure to respond, now that the courts have taken a decision, is sadly going to be a reflection of their attitude towards the rule of law and our constitution. We can only hope that the right decisions will be made in the right offices.” Chimhini said.
The ERC leader challenged government to realise that its own faith in the courts was also important as it should be seen respecting its own courts.
“The government has a responsibility to respect its own constitution which they have sworn to protect.
“If there are no consequences accruing to total disregard of a standing court order, that should be telling of the position of government with respect to rule of law.
“We remain faithful that some Damascene moment will occur on Chief Charumbira to immediately withdraw and retract what he said.
“The consequences of not doing so in terms of the re-engagement efforts by government are quite dire for anyone to consider,” Chimhini warned.
Zimbabwe’s traditional leadership institutions remain highly influential among rural communities.
In past elections, traditional leaders have been accused of frog marching their people to polling stations with instructions to vote for Zanu PF.