Mugabe referendum lawsuit deferred

HARARE - A High Court judge has deferred to Monday an urgent chamber application in which National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairperson Lovemore Madhuku wants President Robert Mugabe to change the date for the referendum.

Madhuku, through his lawyer Alec Muchadehama, filed the application on Tuesday, claiming Zimbabweans need more time to scrutinise the draft hence Mugabe should push the date for the referendum.

Mugabe set March 16 as the date for the referendum.

The application was supposed to be heard yesterday, but was moved to Monday because the presiding judge George Chiweshe was away on State duties.

Madhuku cited Mugabe and Zimbabwe Election Commission acting chairperson Joice Kazembe as respondents in the application.

“It is the view of the NCA that the time set by the president is grossly inadequate in light of the importance and complexity of the opinion being sought from voters,” said Madhuku.

He said there was no official document that was distributed, while the available copies were not translated or simplified.

“The NCA is seeking the urgent intervention of this court to set aside this date and order the president to give voters not less than two months from the date of proclamation.

“Such time would enable the voters to share few copies being distributed and more importantly to listen to different opinions on the issues at stake,” reads part of the application.

Madhuku said there was need for a translation of the draft and for it to be in braille and come up with a shorter version.

“If the referendum is held as promulgated, there will be little time for the public, including civil society, to debate the constitution and matters arising therefrom.

Applicants submit that the draft constitution as promulgated does not contain the views of the general populace.

“It is therefore necessary that the people be given an adequate opportunity to scrutinise the constitution in order to make informed choices,” said Madhuku. -
Tendai Kamhungira

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