Mugabe loses poll case

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has been directed by the High Court to proclaim election dates for by-elections in all vacant constituencies within 14 days.

The National Youth Service Graduates Association (NYSGA) had approached the High Court seeking a court order directing that by-elections be held this year in accordance with the law.

Abson Madusise, the secretary-general of NYSGA, said in his court application allowing constituencies to remain without legislators was undemocratic.

“This is an application for an order directing the respondents to comply with provisions of the Electoral Act in ensuring that full representative democracy exists in the country within the legislature in particular that by-elections be held in all constituencies which are currently vacant,” reads part of the NYSGA application.

In his response filed by the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s office, Mugabe curiously did not oppose the application.

Justice Lavender Makoni’s ruling came hardly two days after Mugabe said in another court challenge filed by three former MDC legislators compelling him to call by-elections in three Matabeleland constituencies that he was planning a constitutional referendum in November and elections in March 2013.

Mugabe, while raising cash constraints arguments, said a “referendum (was) expected to take place during the first week of November”.Mugabe’s court papers also stated that he wanted to “hold the harmonised elections in the last week of March 2013,” adding: “A proclamation to this effect will be made at the appropriate time.”

Mugabe’s poll plan is however, facing fierce resistance from his coalition partners who feel the country is not ready for polls without requisite security, political and electoral reforms.
 
In a court ruling handed down on Wednesday, Justice Makoni ordered the 88-year-old strongman to comply with the youth service graduates’ demand.

“The first respondent be and is hereby directed to publish a notice in the Government Gazette ordering by-elections in all vacant parliamentary and senatorial constituencies, within 14 days of being served with this order,” Justice Makoni ruled.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) which is responsible for conducting elections was also directed to conduct by-elections in all vacant constituencies in terms of the Electoral Act.

Section 39 of the electoral law says the President should call for elections within 14 days after having been informed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly of a vacant post.

“The second respondent (Zec) and the third respondent (Zec chairperson Simpson Mutambanengwe) be and are hereby directed to conduct by-elections in all vacant parliamentary and senatorial constituencies subsequent to the gazetting thereof by the first respondent (Mugabe).”

Mugabe, who was initially dragged to court by three former legislators, Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu, argues the government is too broke to bankroll polls.

The three ex-MPs were expelled from Welshman Ncube’s MDC in 2010 after crossing the floor.

A full Supreme Court bench in July this year upheld a High Court judgment ordering the President to ensure by-elections for Nkayi South, Bulilima East and Lupane East were held, as they were constitutionally long overdue.
But Mugabe said he would call for elections in all 28 vacant seats (now 29 after the death of MDC senator for Chipinge South Josiah Mukayi Rimbi) as he was keen on upholding the law.

However, on Thursday this week, Mugabe said he intended to hold a general election in six months’ time.

Mugabe said government would need close to $300 million to fund the by-elections, a referendum on a new constitution and the general election.

However, Justice Makoni consented to the NYSGA’s demands that Zimbabwe goes for a mini-general election and the President has 14 days to comply with the court order.  

    Post a comment

    Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
    Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
    - Editor

    Your email address will not be shared.