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Ousted Zimbabwean Lawmakers Ask High Court to Order By-Elections to be Held

Three former lawmakers expelled from the formation of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have asked the High Court to order the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and President Robert Mugabe to call by-elections in their former constituencies as soon as possible.

In their application to the Bulawayo High Court this week, Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu said the government stands in violation of the section of the constitution that says by-elections should be held within three months of when a constituency seat becomes vacant.

No by-elections have not been held since the unity government was installed in February 2009 despite vacancies created by death and party infighting, due in part to an agreement that seats opening up in the first year of power sharing would not be contested by the unity government parties. There are 18 vacant seats in Parliament at present.

Former Nkayi South Member Bhebhe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that he and the other two former lawmakers want Mr. Mugabe to set a date for by-elections without further delay. "People in our constituencies are being treated unfairly. They are entitled to a member of Parliament just like anyone else," Bhebhe said.

Political analyst John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe said he backs the move by the former lawmakers, saying it is not right that more than a dozen constituencies have had no representation for more than a year.