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Tendai Biti pleads not guilty in Harare court

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The trial of the MDC Alliance’s deputy national chairperson Tendai Biti commenced on Monday with the 53-year-old lawyer pleading not guilty to two counts of contravening the Electoral Act for his claim on July 31, that MDC leader Nelson Chamisa won the 2018 presidential polls.

His legal team contends that he announced the results that had already been published by election agents.

“There is nothing criminal about that because the law says the public can access and announce returns from polling stations,” said his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, referring to V11 forms that are posted outside polling stations.

“The quotes in both counts make it clear that what was said by the Biti was based on results received from agents across the country, a clear indication that the report was based on polling station and constituency returns. As such, conduct is permitted by the Electoral Act.

The allegations clearly do not disclose an offence.”

Tendai Biti also challenged the court’s jurisdiction to prosecute him, arguing he was unlawfully brought into the country following his arrest in Zambia.

“The accused will challenge the court’s jurisdiction to hear this case because he was abducted from Zambia unlawfully.

That was in violation of a court order issue issued by the Zambian High Court and also in contravention of the local law.

This was also a breach of International law with regards to the extradition of persons facing offences of a political nature,” his lawyer told the court.

Mtetwa also challenged the splitting of charges, arguing the second count should be thrown out as there was only one penalty provision:

“The accused has been served with a charge sheet that has two different counts which are exactly the same and it unclear whether this was a deliberate improper splitting or sheer incompetence on the part of the State.”

African News Agency

POLITICS

Mnangagwa appoints army General Sibanda into the Zanu PF politburo

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Philip Valerio Sibanda ZaNU PF

President Emerson Mnangagwa has appointed General Philip Valerie Sibanda, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, to the Zanu PF politburo, in violation of the national constitution.

During a Zanu PF conference in Gweru on Saturday, Mnangagwa announced that the country’s top-ranking soldier would become an ex officio member of the party’s highest decision-making body in between congresses. Mnangagwa, who benefited from a 2017 military coup, made this announcement during his closing remarks.

“During the course of the year, we lost one of our party stalwarts, Cde Joshua Teke Malinga who was the Secretary for People with Disabilities.

Philip Sibanda’s appointment is a violation of the national constitution which says “The Defence Forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by this constitution.”

While Zimbabwe’s military is known for being embedded with ruling party politics, Sibanda’s appointment is an unprecedented case of a serving soldier taking a leadership position within a political party.

The Zanu PF-led authority has ironically hounded out of service, a lot of officers within the country’s unformed forces for associating themselves with the opposition, which protests continued military involvement in Zanu PF campaigns.

The appointment of Philip Sibanda could come as an attempt by the under-fire leader to hedge himself against a possible coup with the military ever interested in who should be in the country.

The controversial appointment could also fall within the willy politician’s paraphernalia of self-serving schemes amid subtle signals of an ambition to go for a third term.

Zimbabwe has a dirty history of military interference in the country’s political affairs.

During past election periods, partisan military commanders have vowed never to “salute” an opposition leader emerging from the country’s polls in an indirect threat to block the ascension into power of any winner of the presidential election who is not Zanu PF.

Mnangagwa could also be preparing Philip Sibanda for a post in the Zanu PF presidium.

Last year, exiled former cabinet minister and politburo member Jonathan Moyo revealed Mnangagwa was keen to name Sibanda as his second vice president.

Sibanda is among former liberation war fighters drafted into the country’s military upon independence after having waged the war as a ZIPRA combatant.

ZIPRA was the military wing of the former PF Zapu, a liberation war movement that fought side by side with Zanu PF for the attainment of independence.

The current co-vice president, also a former PF Zapu politician, is battling poor health.

Mohadi collapsed a week ago while addressing a Zanu PF rally called to drum up support for a Gutu party election candidate.

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NEWS

Public Outcry Grows Over Mnangagwa’s Appointments of Family Members as Deputy Ministers

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On Monday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa was accused of nepotism for appointing his son, David Kudakwashe Mnangagwa, as the deputy finance minister in his new cabinet, after a controversial re-election. David will be working under finance minister Mthuli Cube. Additionally, the president’s nephew, Tongai Mafidhi Mnangagwa, was named as the deputy minister of tourism and hospitality.

According to Fadzayi Mahere, a member of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), the cabinet of Mnangagwa is unacceptable. Mahere stated that it is a combination of illegitimacy, corruption, violence, nepotism, incompetence, and sex scandals. She added that it lacks the ethical leadership that Zimbabweans need and deserve. It is no surprise that the national mood is dismal.

Mnangagwa appointed Christopher and Monica Mutsvangwa as ministers. Christopher will lead the new ministry of Veterans of Liberation, while Monica will be the minister of Women’s Affairs and SMEs.

David Mnangagwa graduated from the University of Zimbabwe with a law degree. He was elected to parliament through the youth quota system, listed on a Zanu PF party roster from the Midlands province. Mnangagwa is believed to have almost two dozen children.

Tongai, meanwhile, is the Zanu PF MP for Hunyani constituency. His late father, David, was Mnangagwa’s young brother.

On Monday, sources reported that Mnangagwa is contemplating bestowing an official role on his son, Emmerson Junior, in his office. According to the source, Junior has already attended some of the president’s meetings with foreign investors, which has been an uncomfortable situation. Mnangagwa aims to regularise this arrangement by giving Junior an official position, such as an adviser or director.

On August 23rd, the 80-year-old Mnangagwa was declared the winner of the election amidst opposition allegations that the vote was fraudulent. He is now serving his second and final term as president, becoming another addition to the list of African leaders who have established political dynasties.

In Congo-Brazzaville, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso appointed his son Denis-Christel as a cabinet minister, a move that revived media speculation that he had a dynastic succession in mind.

Teodoro Obiang, President of Equatorial Guinea, appointed his son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, as Vice President. He has been in power since removing his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema in 1979.

The former President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is the son of Omar Bongo who held the position from 1967 to 2009. Similarly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila succeeded his father, Laurent-Désiré, after his assassination and remained as the head of state for 17 years.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has appointed his daughter Ange Kagame as the deputy executive director of the Strategy and Policy Unit in the Office of the President.

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NEWS

“CCC’s Ian Makone Takes the Helm as Harare’s New Mayor with Kudzai Kadzombe as Deputy

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The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has a new mayor in Harare. Ian Makone, who represents Ward 18, won the vote of the council on Monday, replacing Jacob Mafume from Ward 17. Kudzai Kadzombe, representing Ward 41, will serve as his deputy.

The CCC won a large majority in the election, taking 42 of the 45 council seats. Makone received 46 votes from the council, while his opponent, Temany Utete of Zanu PF, received only 7. Kadzombe won with 47 votes, compared to Susan Chuma of Zanu PF, who received 7. Party leader Nelson Chamisa instructed CCC councillors to vote for Makone and Kadzombe, and issued similar instructions for the election in Bulawayo.

In his first speech as mayor, Ian Makone pledged to prioritize service delivery to all residents, regardless of political affiliation. He also promised to tackle corruption and ensure that council workers are fairly paid. Tafadzwa Muguti, Harare’s secretary for provincial affairs, offered government support to the new council in addressing issues such as water supply, garbage collection, and sewer maintenance.

Overall, the message from the council and government officials was one of unity and shared responsibility for the well-being of Harare and its residents.

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