Cape Town – President Robert Mugabe is attacking Zimbabwe's judges "out of panic" after realising he would lose the case in which he is being challenged to nullify the outcome of the ruling Zanu-PF party's December congress, a former ally says, according to a report.
Mugabe made headlines over the weekend following his statements that he would "question the qualifications" of any Zimbabwean judge who agreed to hear a legal case against him brought by his former top allies.
"We would want to see which magistrate would sit to hear that case. Then we will question their educational qualifications," Mugabe was quoted as saying in the official Herald newspaper.
"No respect for the country's constitution"
Expelled former Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, however, said the veteran leader had been unsettled by the court challenge, according to News Day.
Mugabe's former allies whom he fired last year, are suing the 91-year-old leader and his Zanu-PF party for unfair dismissal and for breaching the party’s constitution.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, changed the party's constitution ahead of Zanu-PF's December congress to allow him to appoint his two deputies himself rather than having them elected by the party.
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Gumbo and Zanu-PF's former secretary general, Didymus Mutasa said in their lawsuit that these changes were illegal.
Following the reports, opposition parties and legal experts have accused Mugabe of trying to intimidate the country’s courts.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Obert Gutu said Mugabe had "absolutely" no respect for the country's constitution
"He [Mugabe] is acting like classic tinpot dictator," Gutu was quoted as saying.
Legal experts, on the other hand, said Mugabe’s former allies were unlikely to get a fair court hearing, saying the president, through his threats, had pre-empted and prejudiced the case, according to a Daily News report.
But Information Minister Jonathan Moyo insisted in a Herald report on Monday that the nonagenarian had not threatened the country’s judges, saying critics were misdirecting themselves in twisting the president’s statement.
This is despite the fact that prior to the filing of the court application, Mugabe warned his former aides against taking the matter to the courts, saying they should, instead, exhaust internal Zanu-PF mechanisms to seek redress over their supposed grief, New Zimbabwe.com said.