[JURIST] The High Court [official site] of Zimbabwe ruled [Tweet of judgment] Saturday that the military takeover that ousted ex-president Robert Mugabe [BBC profile] was constitutional and not considered a coup.
Last week the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) [party website] demanded the resignation of 93-year-old Mugabe when he dismissed former vice president and now current President Emmerson Mnangagwa [BBC profile] in an apparent attempt to consolidate power to his wife, Grace Mugabe [BBC profile]. This triggered a backlash from the military and the ZANU PF, both of which have been instrumental in the maintenance of Mugabe's authority for all these years, ultimately forcing the former president's resignation [JURIST report].
The court decision stated:
The actions of the Defense Forces (Zimbabwe Defense Force of Zimbabwe) in intervening to stop the take-over of first respondent's constitutional functions by those around him are constitutionally permissible and lawful in terms of Section 212 of the Constitution [text, PDF] of Zimbabwe.The decision further said that it is the military's duty to "arrest first respondents abdication of constitutional function" and "ensure that non-elected individuals do not exercise executive functions which can only be exercised by elected constitutional functionaries."
On the same day as the ruling, former vice president Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe's new head of state, where in his inauguration speech [text] he praised ex-president Mugabe as "a father, a mentor, comrade in arms and my leader."