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President Mugabe Excused From Calling Zimbabwe By-elections

The High Court Friday excused President Robert Mugabe from complying with its earlier order to proclaim by-elections dates in three Matabeleland constituencies by March 31 this year.

In his ruling today judge president Justice George Chiweshe said he would give reasons for his judgment on Monday.

Two weeks ago Mr. Mugabe made an urgent application in the High Court seeking to be excused from complying with an order compelling him to call by-elections in Nkayi South, Bulilima East and Lupane East by March 31.

This followed an application by Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu - all former legislators expelled by the MDC formation led by Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube.

In his application, President Mugabe argued it did not make economic sense to hold by-elections in the three constituencies when he was about to proclaim election dates for harmonized elections to be held sometime this year.

But the matter, which was supposed to have been dealt with earlier in the week, was postponed after Mr. Mugabe dropped reference to general elections in his application.

Justice Chiweshe Thursday heard arguments from President Mugabe's lawyers and the former legislators’ attorneys before handing down his judgment.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director, Pedzisayi Ruhanya, criticized Friday’s high court ruling.

Mr. Mugabe was two years ago ordered by the High Court to proclaim by-elections dates in the three constituencies but has repeatedly asked for more time to do so.

The three former lawmakers were not immediately available for comment.