A Zanu PF member who challenged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy in court was charged with fraud on Tuesday after reporting to a police station by appointment with his lawyer.
Police charged Sybeth Musengezi for fraudulently obtaining Zanu PF membership by registering a false address back in 2012.
His lawyers said the police charges were an attempt to strip him of his Zanu PF membership and therefore his locus standi – one’s right, ability or capacity to bring legal proceedings in a court of law.
Musengezi’s lawyer Doug Coltart argued that the allegations were not criminal charges and were fabricated to punish his client for challenging Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.
“We consider the charges to be an abusive process and an appalling example of a police force that allows itself to be used by Zanu PF to silence dissenting voices, within Zanu PF itself,” Coltart said.
“The issue raised in the fraud charges, regarding the address used on the forms by which Mr Musengezi became a member of Zanu PF, are not issues of a criminal nature at all. They are in fact issues for determination before the court in the civil case that Mr Musengezi has against the president challenging the president’s legitimacy as the leader of Zanu PF.”
Police said Musengezi’s claim that he lived at 4513 Hatcliffe Extension was an “unlawful misrepresentation” which “prejudiced Zanu PF to reputation and to good administration.” The house allegedly belongs to one Allen Chisuko.
In a court application filed last year, Musengezi challenged Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to Zanu PF’s leadership following a 2017 military coup that ousted former leader Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa’s legal team demanded, in letters to his lawyers, that he should drop the charges.
Musengezi later revealed that he was receiving death threats, he believes part of coercive moves to force him to drop the charges.
Musengezi’s court application has stoked factional fighting in Zanu PF. Mnangagwa’s supporters fear Musengezi is being used by another faction to remove him from power.