Polls: Lawyers push Mugabe

HARARE - Lawyers representing three ex-legislators are returning to court to force President Robert Mugabe to call elections this year, in a move that could further expose how the 88-year-old is chickening out of his own demands for early polls.

Recently the High Court granted Mugabe’s request to synchronise by-elections with polls that would end the “dysfunctional” coalition government that is running the country next year.

Mugabe, who started the year vociferously demanding elections by mid-2012, had begged the court to grant
him permission to delay elections until at least March next year.

Lawyers for the former MPs say they are now approaching the Supreme Court to force Mugabe to immediately announce dates for elections.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who are representing former legislators Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu, say they will not let the case sleep and will this week request the reasons for the judgement that was made by judge President George Chiweshe two weeks ago.

When Chiweshe passed his judgement on Tuesday last week he said reasons for granting Mugabe’s March 2013 poll wish would follow.

Tawanda Zhuwarara, one of the ZLHR lawyers representing the former legislators, said an appeal to the Supreme Court has been delayed by the fact that there are no reasons yet as to why Chiweshe granted Mugabe’s poll plan.

“We will be going to the registrar of the High Court in order to get reasons for the judgement because we cannot approach the Supreme Court without reasons from the High Court. Once these reasons are given then we will be at the Supreme Court seeking a reversal of the judgement,” said Zhuwarara.

Mugabe was initially hauled to the High Court by three former MDC legislators in 2010 after their parliamentary membership was terminated following their suspension and subsequent expulsion from Industry minister Welshman Ncube’s MDC party.

Since 2010 Mugabe has been in a bruising court battle with the three MPs who are now indirectly pushing the cause of other vacant constituencies.

There are about 200 municipal and parliamentary seats that have fallen vacant since the 2008 elections and holding by elections as demanded by the former MPs will result in a mini-general election.

Section 39 of the Electoral Act directs the president to proclaim elections within 14 days of having been informed of a vacant seat by the Speaker of Parliament.

However, Mugabe pleaded with the High Court to waive a ruling made by the Supreme Court directing him to hold elections in accordance with the law arguing that the cash strapped hybrid government is too broke to bankroll a mini-general election.

Pro-democracy groups and the MDC formations who are party to power sharing Global Political Agreement say Zimbabwe should first implement an election roadmap that would ensure a free and fair poll whose outcome will not be disputed before rushing to polls.

But Zhuwarara said the basis for their appeal to the country’s highest court of appeal is that the High Court does not have jurisdiction on a case that has already been determined by the Supreme Court.

“The basis of appeal is that the High Court does not have jurisdiction over a matter that has already been determined by the Supreme Court so we plan to take the matter back to the courts,” said Zhuwarara.

    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.