FORMER President of Zimbabwe Mr Robert Mugabe freely and voluntarily stepped down from power and the assumption of office by his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa was done in terms of the law, Chief Justice Luke Malaba has ruled.

Dismissing an application by two fringe political outfits seeking nullification of the inauguration of President Mnangagwa in November last year, the judiciary boss said Mr Mugabe’s resignation was free and voluntary.

The Liberal Democrats and Revolutionary Freedom Fighters as well as activists Bongani Nyathi, Linda Masarira and Vusumuzi Sibanda sought the greenlight to contest the legality of the President Mnangagwa-led Government.

They argued that Mr Mugabe tendered the resignation under duress and that the assumption of office by President Mnangagwa was unconstitutional.

It was also argued in the court papers that the impeachment process that was instituted prior to the resignation of Mr Mugabe was unlawful and that it served to coerce him to step down.

However, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, sitting in his Chambers, threw out the request for direct access before rubbishing the intended constitutional challenge as frivolous and vexatious.

He said Mr Mugabe carefully applied his mind and decided to step down without the embarrassment of impeachment.

“The former President’s written notice of resignation speaks for itself. It sets the context in which it was written.

“He candidly reveals the fact that he had communicated with the Speaker of Parliament at 1353 hours. In the communication, the former President expressed to the Speaker his desire to resign from the office of President.

“The Speaker must have advised him that for the resignation to have the legal effect of bringing his presidency to an end, it had to be communicated to him by means of a written notice.

“A written notice of resignation addressed to the Speaker and signed by the President, on the face of it, meets the first requirement of constitutional validity,” said the Chief Justice.

He said the contents of the letter of resignation also confirm that the author freely appended his signature and acted in terms of the law.

Chief Justice Malaba said President Mnangagwa’s assumption of office was therefore done in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution after a vacancy occurred due to resignation.

“A vacancy in the office of the President occurred as a result of the resignation by the former incumbent,” he said.