With only a few days to go before a Zimbabwe High Court deadline given to President Robert Mugabe to proclaim a date to hold three by-elections in Matebeleland, the government’s legal team, led by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, is next week expected to file papers in the courts to further delay the polls.
The High Court had given Mr. Mugabe until March 31 to proclaim a date for the three by-elections following the expulsion of former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawmakers Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu from the party.
They took the president to court in 2010 demanding the by-elections. Speaking in Rome on Thursday, the president said his legal team would be going back to court to seek another extension.
In a previous application Mr. Chinamasa said the cash-strapped government needed time to find resources to fund the by-elections.
He also argued that apart from the three constituencies, the government was also required to fill another 25 parliamentary vacant seats and 164 local authory vacant seats.
The seats fell vacant due to deaths or expulsions. Bhebhe told VOA's Studio 7 that Mr. Mugabe’s move is unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, an aide to South African president Jacob Zuma has refuted claims that Pretoria’s facilitation team was thrown out of a full Joint Monitoring and Implemenation Committee meeting in Harare Wednesday.
Mr. Zuma is the Southern African Development Community-appointed mediator in Zimbabwe.
The Herald newspaper, qouting the Zanu-PF representative at the meeting, Tsholotsho lawmaker Jonathan Moyo, accused the three-member Zuma facilitation team of trying to interfere in the country’s affairs by allegedly acting outside its mandate.
The facilitation team is said to have insisted on attending the JOMIC meeting. JOMIC is a Zimbabwean multipartisan panel that was first launched on January 30, 2009, pursuant of the 2008 Zimbabwean power sharing agreement.
Mr. Zuma’s envoys and Zanu-PF hawks have traded barbs previously as Pretoria continues to push for electoral reforms ahead of this year’s crucial polls.
Zanu-PF has been resisting implementing reforms agreed on when the unity government was formed.
But Mr. Zuma’s international relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu told VOA's Studio that there was no such impasse.
Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi, director of the Media Centre, is not surprised that President Mugabe’s party continues to resist reforms ahead of elections since reforms mean certain defeat in elections.