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Justice Chiweshe Ruling Not For Harmonized Elections Date

FOLLOWING the flurry of speculation about the extent and import of High Court Judge President Justice George Chiweshe's recent three Matabeleland by-elections ruling on the forthcoming harmonized elections, the Crisis Report Team established from analysts there is no reference to the forthcoming harmonized elections.

 

In granting the High Court waiver allowing President Robert Mugabe not to proclaim dates for by-elections in Nkayi South, Lupane East and Bulilima East and effectively relieving him from complying with an earlier court order sought by three ex-Parliamentarians, Chiweshe restricted himself only to the by-elections matter.

 

One of the lawyers representing the three MPs, Tawanda Zhuwarara, said: "The judgment by Chiweshe does not talk about the forthcoming harmonized elections.

"In fact, the Judge President told President Robert Mugabe's counsel in court not to mention harmonized elections. €

 

In the High court case ruling on Friday April 5, President Mugabe wriggled from compliance and overturned the earlier legal victory by former MDC-N MPs - Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu - who were expelled from Parliament apparently for defecting to the MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

 

Confusion about the implication of the ruling had raised fears that elections could be announced prematurely before the requisite reforms are implemented as stated in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and called for by Southern African Development Community (SADC) under the pretext of compliance with a High court order.

 

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Spokesperson and Bulawayo Agenda Director Mr. Thabani Nyoni warned of a deliberate plan to torpedo the delicate transition ahead of the key elections in Zimbabwe by those fanning the supposed confusion.

 

"There is a grand strategy being played out in some section of the Inclusive Government, the Judiciary and the State controlled media.

"These attempts are apparently aimed at hijacking the mediation of SADC and usurp the power of the triumvirate of the three parties in the GPA.

"The plot is to take political matters to the judiciary in order to say once a decision is made noone can contest that decision because that contestation amounts to disregarding the rule of law, € said Nyoni.

 

The Herald newspaper front page story of Tuesday April 9, 2013, concluded from the High Court ruling as follows: "In terms of the Constitution, harmonized elections should be held before the expiryof Parliament, which for the Seventh Parliament manifests at midnight on June 29.

"Justice Chiweshe said it was common cause that President Mugabe was sworn in on June 29, 2009, hence the life of the present Parliament should be deemed to run from that date for a period of five years. €

 

The insinuation is that since "harmonized elections should be held before the expiry of Parliament €as the State paper reports and Justice Chiweshe confirms that expiry happens on 29 June then elections are due on that date.

 

President Mugabe also at one point had roped in the issue of the taunted June 29 date, ostensibly favored by Zanu-PF for the next harmonized elections in 2013, prompting the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to apply to be included as a respondent in the legal tug-of-war through his lawyer, Chris Mhike.

 

The PM had apparently sensed the court case potentially being turned into an electoral ambush.

 

However Chiweshe told Mugabe's legal counsel Deputy Attorney General Advocate Prince Machaya in one of the court sessions that the High court did not set election dates as that was a prerogative of the executive, leading to the PM excusing himself from the matter.

 

The PM's spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka insisted on Wednesday April 10,2013, in an interview with the Crisis Report Team that the reports were misleading and President Mugabe even in his capacity had no power to announce the important poll date alone - neither would the three Principals collectively dash to elections.

 

"Mugabe has no power to announce elections because he does not have that power in the GPA which is part of the current Constitution as Amendment number 19.

"In any case, you will remember that the Principals sat and tasked Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga together with Legal and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to come up with timelinesfor concluding the enactment and reforms based on the new constitution, which would guide the Principals in collectively deciding on an election date.

"Chinamasa instead went out to put an affidavit in court talking of the June 29 date. When the Prime minister applied to join in, Mugabe removed that aspect from his application, then the Prime Minister withdrew his application, € Tamborinyoka clarified.

 

Tamborinyoka said Chinamasa and Matinenga in his understanding are working on the timelines that will inform a proclamation of the date of elections by the Principals, basing on consensus.

Efforts to get hold of the two ministers on the current progress were not successful.


The fears of a rushed electiondate announcement, which have always characterized the life of the GNU, were revived due to the reportage by the state-controlled media, suggesting that Chiweshe had endorsed the June 29 election timeline in his ruling on by-elections on Friday April 5.

 

Meanwhile, one of the lawyers for the three former MPsinvolved in this battle over the past year, Zhuwarara confirmed on Wednesday April 10 that they had taken the by-elections matter to the Supreme Court.

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