Con-Court sets down 'alien' case for hearing

HARARE - Chief Justice (CJ) Godfrey Chidyausiku has ruled that the case of a Bulawayo woman challenging the July 31 poll date should be heard on an urgent basis.

Maria Phiri — who until the advent of the new Constitution was regarded as an alien and unable to vote — approached the Constitutional Court, seeking an extension for election dates in order for her to be able to vote in the forthcoming elections, claiming it is her right to do so.

In the application, handled by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, she argues that proclamation of the nomination date and polling date must allow for a 30-day intensive voter registration period, which ends on July 10.

She cites President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara, Welshman Ncube, the Attorney General (AG), Johannes Tomana and Jealousy Mawarire as respondents.

In the matter heard in Chidyausiku’s chambers yesterday, Mugabe and the AG were represented by law officer Tinei Dodo, while Chris Mhike appeared on behalf of Tsvangirai.

The other three were not represented.

 “The President’s legal representative — a law officer from the AG’s Office, who also appeared at the hearing for the fifth respondent — Tomana, initially indicated his opposition to the urgent chamber application, but the opposition was not sustained, and in the end, it was ruled by the CJ that applicant’s (Phiri) principal application will be heard by the full bench of the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe next week,” Mhike told the Daily News yesterday.

“The exact dates and times of the hearing will be announced in due course,”

The application comes after Mawarire, the Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa (CEDSA) director and founding trustee had won a Supreme Court case ordering Mugabe to call for elections by end-July.

Phiri told the court that former aliens have to acquire identity cards first and therefore cannot be able to immediately benefit in the 30-day voter registration exercise.

She argues that polls could only be held after August 12.

“I wish to make use of this 30-day period of intensive voter registration to procure a new identity document and register as a voter.

“I am advised that I have a right to register as a voter during that 30-day registration period,” Phiri said.

Phiri argued that it is apparent that elections cannot lawfully take place before August 12.

She further said the July 31 poll date will not afford her the opportunity to register within the 30-day period of intensive voter registration, hence the infringement upon her right. - Tendai Kamhungira

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