HARARE – Outspoken former Zanu PF youth leader for Mashonaland Central, Godfrey Tsenengamu — who is facing serious charges of attempting to subvert President Robert Mugabe’s government — was yesterday re-arrested by police on the same charges.
Although Tsenengamu, who later appeared in court cuffed, was briefly set free — after being allowed to leave the court during lunch time to get food outside the building — his subsequent freedom bid was quashed when Harare magistrate Barbra Chimboza granted police their request to detain him.
She gave the State a deadline of today, to prepare necessary paperwork for him to be formally placed on remand.
Chimbodza said Tsenengamu would not be prejudiced by his detention since the State had only required four extra hours from the time that the 48-hour detention provision lapsed, to conclude their investigations.
This was after investigating officer, John Mudyiwa, had applied for a warrant of Tsenengamu’s further detention, on the basis that police wanted to recover documents and materials that were used when he allegedly committed his crime.
“Your worship, the accused person was advocating for the president to step down and be replaced with his preferred candidate, (Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa, and I fear that the materials he used in committing the offence, which are kept at his house, may be disposed of,” Mudyiwa said.
“The gallery has witnesses who have heard what I said and can cause that evidence to be destroyed, hence the need to get to the accused person’s residence urgently,” he added.
Tsenengamu’s lawyer, Zivanayi Macharaga, argued that the State was neither justified to get the detention warrant, nor to have his client placed on remand.
“Do the words allegedly uttered by the accused person constitute an offence for anyone to be arrested?
“Is it not correct that it pertains to issues concerning Mugabe being the party president, not the state president, such that these allegations do not subsist?
“It is surprising that the State already has sufficient evidence but still wants further detention. The court must guard itself from being dragged into political discourse and the police by the same nature should not abuse power by encroaching into politics,” Macharaga said.
Tsenengamu was arrested in February this year after convening a press conference in Harare where he called for a fightback from Mnangagwa and his allies, following Mugabe’s birthday interview with the ZBC in which the nonagenarian appeared to crush the VP’s mooted presidential ambitions by saying that no one in Zanu PF was worthy of succeeding him.
“It is time we go open about this succession thing because some of us have since identified our candidate and it’s none other than Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. If Mugabe doesn’t like him, that is up to him, but we are saying we want him to lead now” he said in response to Mugabe’s statement.
Zanu PF is deeply divided over Mugabe’s succession, with a faction of young party Turks going by the moniker Generation 40 (G40) and which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, squaring up against the VP’s allies, Team Lacoste.