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Zimbabwe Court: Parliament Term Ends June, Elections Imminent

The High Court on Monday ruled that the life of parliament ends on June 29, clearing the way for President Robert Mugabe to declare the dates of fresh elections.

Judge president George Chiweshe, delivering his full judgment today in a case in which President Mugabe had sought to be excused from complying with a court order forcing him to declare the date of by-elections in three Matabeleland parliamentary constituencies namely Nakyi South, Lupane East and Bulilima East, said the life of the current parliament was coming to an end on that day.

Judge Chiweshe said forcing President Mugabe to set dates for those by-elections in those three constituencies and other vacant seats countrywide was tantamount to wasting taxpayers’ money.

He said those who would be elected could be in office for only two weeks if procedures of calling for such an election in terms of the Electoral Act were to be followed before the expiry of the life of the current parliament.

Chiweshe said because the lifespan of parliament is 5 years, the term of office of the current parliament ends on 29 June since President Mugabe was sworn in 29 June 2008, adding that fresh elections are now imminent.

The judge said lawyers representing Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu, who lost their parliamentary seats following their expulsion from the MDC formation of professor Welshman Ncube, failed to convince him that the life of parliament can be extended by a four months within which the president would be required to proclaim the dates of elections.

Justice Chiweshe said the extension could only be done during a state of emergency or when the country is involved in a war.

President Mugabe had approached the court seeking to be excused from complying with an order compelling him to declare dates of by-elections in the three constituencies by March 31.