Elections: Zim plunges into fresh crisis

HARARE - Zimbabwe yesterday plunged into a fresh crisis after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai claimed Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa’s Tuesday Constitutional Court application — for election dates postponement — was weak and run without due consultations.

The development comes amid heightening clashes in the shaky inclusive government and as the Zanu PF element of the four year-old arrangement looks determined to frustrate or short-circuit a Sadc directive that ample time be given to preparations for this year’s key polls.

“The principals have agreed that ministers Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube and Chinamasa will sit down and draft a consensus position on a fresh Constitutional Court application because the one that was submitted is weak. This is the position that has been taken by the government in its inclusive nature,” aid Tsvangirai through his spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, adding the application was null and void.

The PM, who shares political power with President Robert Mugabe and Ncube in a four year-old coalition government, is the Global Political Agreement (GPA) principals’ spokesperson.

On Tuesday, Chinamasa, who is Mugabe’s legal advisor, filed an application at the Constitutional Court that ironically cited Tsvangirai and Ncube as the respondents, when in essence the two principals along with Mugabe, are supposed to act in unison and approach the courts as applicants.

When the Daily News tried to get a comment from George Charamba who is Mugabe’s spokesperson, his mobile phone was answered by a lady who claimed he was no longer using the number.

Chinamasa was not picking his cell phone.

At its extraordinary meeting in Mozambique on June 15, Sadc, the 15-member regional body that is seized with the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe, directed bickering partners to ask for an extension to the July 31 Constitutional Court ruling in order to implement outstanding reforms.

Mugabe, who had unilaterally declared that polls would be held on July 31, was reminded in Maputo that he has to act in consultation with his coalition partners when making key decisions and Chinamasa’s application came as a shocker to both Ncube and Tsvangirai.

“The Sadc resolutions make it clear that parties in government should work together and that was agreed in Cabinet on Tuesday, so whatever position was taken has now been superseded by the government,” said Tamborinyoka.

As the coalition government falters ahead of crucial polls — Zanu PF ministers on Tuesday reportedly walked out of a government meeting that went on to thrash the way forward in the wake of Sadc’s directive for the country to seek recourse at the highest court for a change of poll dates.

Tsvangirai and Ncube maintain that they will not be frogmarched to participate in an election without the implementation of agreed security sector and media reforms — a position upheld by Sadc.

However, questions have been raised as to the feasibility for the implementation of envisaged reforms, even if the court grants the two-week extension that Chinamasa is seeking.

Despite the Sadc stance on Zimbabwe to implement media and security sector reforms, the Zanu PF wing in the coalition government has strenuously resisted implementing them.

Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s political nemesis for the past 12 years, says his party would boycott an early election without the necessary reforms.

“Sadc did not suggest a date. To us the date is subservient to the reforms. The reforms should come first and the latest we can have elections is by October 31,” said Tamborinyoka.

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