By Fidelis Munyoro
The eldest child and daughter of former President Robert Mugabe, Mrs Bona Mugabe-Chikore has approached the High Court seeking to reverse the decision of a magistrate rejecting her appeal against the order by Chief Zvimba to exhume her father’s remains from the family homestead.
Chinhoyi magistrate Ms Ruth Moyo last year threw out the application by Mrs Mugabe-Chikore and her siblings, Robert Junior and Chatunga Mugabe, for a review of the chief’s order saying they had nothing to do with the chief’s ruling as the person cited in the case was their mother, Mrs Grace Mugabe.
This prompted the appeal to the High Court that was heard yesterday before Justice Amy Tsanga sitting with Justice Slyvia Chirawu-Mugomba.
The judges reserved judgment to a later date, after hearing submissions from the legal counsel for the Mugabe family and for Mr Tinos Manongovere, the village head who complained before Chief Zvimba last year that Mr Mugabe was improperly interred.
Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara instructed by Chimwamurombe Law Firm argued the matter for the Mugabe family, while Mr Pardon Nhokwara acted for Mr Manongovere.
Advocate Zhuwarara argued that the magistrate made multiple errors, including her ruling that only those physically in the chief’s court when the original order was given could appeal against that order.
Adv Zhuwarara argued that the right to appeal was not limited to parties who appeared before the chief’s court, but also included any person aggrieved by the decision, and he cited previous judicial proceedings.
He argued that the original order against Mrs Grace Mugabe to exhume the remains of the late former President was in itself a criminal offence.
In his submissions, Mr Nhokwara argued that the appeal was defective for non-compliance with the High Court rules, which Adv Zhuwara counter-argued that the appeal had to be directed by the magistrate’s court rules.
The Mugabes had asked the Chinhoyi court to make a judicial review of Chief Zvimba’s ruling, compelling Mrs Mugabe to exhume her husband’s remains and rebury them at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare.
But Ms Moyo ruled that Mrs Mugabe-Chikore had no right to apply for a judicial review of the matter that was handed down by Chief Zvimba, born Stanley Mhondoro.
The basis of the appeal, as cited by the family legal counsel was that “absence of jurisdiction, impropriety of relief granted, irregular service of summons and the judgement was biased.”
The Chief Zvimba fined Mrs Mugabe five cattle and two goats for burying the former President at his homestead instead of the family cemetery in Kutama Village.
He also ordered Mrs Mugabe to exhume the former president’s remains and rebury them at the National Heroes’ Acre.
Upholding Mr Manongovere’s complaint, he fined Mrs Grace Mugabe for contempt of court and incorrectly burying her husband.
Earlier this week, the courts removed from the roll a separate application by Mrs Mugabe seeking to block the exhumation of her husband’s remains, as per the village court ruling.