Lawyer takes on vice-pres­i­dent

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

HARARE — Zim­babwe’s for­mer ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter David Coltart says he is ready to face vice-pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa in court af­ter the Zanu-pf strong­man threat­ened to sue him.mnan­gagwa is tipped to suc­ceed Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe, 92, when he re­tires or dies.

The row emerged in the wake of the re­cent pub­li­ca­tion in South Africa of Coltart’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, The Strug­gle Con­tin­ues – 50 years of tyranny.

Coltart is Zim­babwe’s top hu­man rights lawyer who be­gan his le­gal ca­reer as state vi­o­lence against civil­ians erupted in the Mata­bele­land prov­inces and parts of the Mid­lands from 1983 to 1987.He was in­volved for more than 20 years in op­po­si­tion pol­i­tics and be­came ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter dur­ing the fouryear unity gov­ern­ment with the two Move­ment for Demo­cratic Change par­ties which ended in 2013.

In his book, he pub­lishes sev­eral re­marks he says were made by Mnan­gagwa 33 years ago as head of the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Or­gan­i­sa­tion.coltart and oth­ers in­ter­preted the re­marks as a con­trib­u­tory fac­tor in the slaugh­ter of about 20 000 peo­ple in the Mata­bele­land and Mid­lands prov­inces from 1983 to 1987.Mnan­gagwa claims he did not make the state­ments pub­lished in Bu­l­awayo’s Chron­i­cle news­pa­per at the time and reprinted by the same news­pa­per ear­lier this week.

The Chron­i­cle is part of Zim­babwe News­pa­pers which is gen­er­ally seen as state-con­trolled but some an­a­lysts say it is cur­rently en­gaged in some of the in­traZanu-pf fac­tion fights about who will suc­ceed Mu­gabe.

Coltart told The Daily News in Harare: “In the cir­cum­stances, Mnan­gagwa would be very poorly ad­vised by his lawyers to in­sti­tute le­gal pro­ceed­ings… any ac­tion will be de­fended.”mnan­gagwa told an­other Harare news­pa­per that Coltart’s state­ments, link­ing him to the deaths of thou­sands of civil­ians, were a “fab­ri­ca­tion” and were “ma­li­cious and false”.

Coltart has asked why Mnan­gagwa did not sue sooner or at­tempt to cor­rect what the Chron­i­cle pub­lished in 1983.

“These ex­tracts (in the au­tobi-

og­ra­phy) con­firm that what is recorded in my book ac­cu­rately re­flects what the Chron­i­cle re­ported him as say­ing then,” Coltart said.

Mnan­gagwa’s lawyers is­sued a state­ment which said they were “pe­rus­ing… Coltart’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy… be­fore con­sid­er­ing ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion to be taken to ad­dress these false and ma­li­cious state­ments”.

He has al­ways de­nied any re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mur­der of mostly Nde­bele-speak­ing op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers at that time.

Mu­gabe has never apol­o­gised for the slaugh­ter, but re­marked atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by a North Korean-trained army brigade were “a mo­ment of mad­ness”.

The Chron­i­cle pub­lished the fol­low­ing re­marks it said were made by Mnan­gagwa at a proZanu-pf rally in April 1983: “The cam­paign against dis­si­dents can only suc­ceed if the in­fra­struc­ture which nur­tures them is de­stroyed. — IOL

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