'Con-Court can amend poll ruling'

HARARE - Legal experts have said the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) is duty bound to review its ruling for elections to be held by July 31 if it is approached by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa as directed by Sadc last week.

With Chinamasa yet to approach the court for recourse, Greg Lennington, a constitutional law expert ,said it is not yet clear how the Constitutional Court would deal with the matter.

“It will be very difficult to hold elections on July 31 considering the legal procedures that need to be done before an election,” Lennington said.

“It is possible for the president to seek for an extension, but what is unclear is how the court will rule.”

Lennington said Mugabe made a controversial constitutional move by using Presidential Powers to amend the Electoral Act, by by-passing Parliament as required under section 157 of the new Constitution.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has accused his long-time rival of committing a “legal coup”. Tsvangirai and leader of the smaller MDC Welshman Ncube say going to polls on July 31 without fundamental reforms would precipitate chaos similar to what led to the formation of a coalition government in 2009.

If Chinamasa files the application, it will add to two other applications also seeking an extension of the poll date.

Nixon Nyikadzino in his Con-Court application argues that the holding of general elections by July 31 would violate his constitutionally-enshrined rights as a voter to have fair and violence-free polls.

Maria Phiri of Bulawayo in her application also says the proclamation of the nomination date and polling date must allow for the 30-day intensive voter registration period, which ends on July 10.

Selby Hwacha, a legal expert, said the courts had inherent control over their orders or decisions.

“That is why you see people given bail; go to the same court to seek for variation of conditions of their bail,” Hwacha said.

“Also in this case, the Constitutional Court can review their previous decisions basing on the arguments that would have been presented.” - Bridget Mananavire

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