BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A Harare magistrate on Friday said former Zanu PF activist Sybeth Musengezi was eligible for a ruling party membership in what his lawyers said was confirmation that he was facing baseless charges to stop him from challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.
Musengezi was granted $30 000 bail on Friday when he appeared before magistrate Yeukazi Dzuda after spending days in remand prison in a case where he faces charge of falsifying his address to obtain Zanu PF membership.
Musengezi filed papers at the High Court in October 2021 seeking a ruling declaring null and void a November 19, 2017 Zanu PF central committee meeting that confirmed Mnangagwa as the acting party president.
Mnangagwa later assumed the party and country’s presidency.
In opposition papers, Zanu PF argued Musengezi was a bogus party member, who could not challenge Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.
He was arrested over a week ago with the state accusing him of supplying fake addresses to obtain a Zanu PF membership card and to enjoy ruling party benefits including participating in its internal elections.
In granting him bail on Friday, Dzuda said Musengezi was eligible for a Zanu PF membership.
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“The facts as they fully appear on the request for remand form and submissions made by both counsel in court reveal that the applicant became eligible for Zanu PF membership and held positions within the ruling Zanu PF party,” Dzuda ruled.
“Investigations proved that the alleged addresses where it is being said that they were fictitious were not supplied by the applicant but by state’s informants.
“The state witness confirmed under investigations that number 410 Sandton Park, an address supplied by the applicant has since been verified.”
Musengezi will be back in court on June 10.
Musengezi’s lawyers said they felt vindicated after their position that Musengezi was being persecuted for challenging Mnangagwa’s ‘unconstitutional’ takeover of power following the military coup was confirmed by the ruling.
“The magistrates finding that he was eligible for Zanu PF membership when he became a member of Zanu PF really underscores how baseless these charges are,” Doug Coltart told The Standard on Friday.
“If he was eligible then he could not have defrauded Zanu PF by becoming a member, and it really demonstrates that this case is all about persecuting him for being someone who had a different open view within the party, and who spoke up and took action against unconstitutional practices within the party.”
Musengezi cited Zanu PF, Mnangagwa, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, party finance secretary Patrick Chinamasa, former deputy president Phelekezela Mphoko and ex Zanu PF finance secretary Ignatious Chombo as the first to fifth respondents respectively in his application challenging Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.
In his opposing papers, Mpofu argued the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case, saying Mnangagwa enjoyed presidential immunity.
Mpofu also said Musengezi was not a Zanu PF member.