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Mugabe Wins Court Battle To Delay Overdue By-Elections

A Zimbabwean High Court judge has endorsed President Robert Mugabe’s plan to delay three overdue by-elections in Matabeleland region until March next year when the cash-strapped country is set to hold general elections.

The Supreme Court had ordered Mr. Mugabe to call for by-elections in Nkayi South, Bulilima East and Lupane East constituencies which fell vacant in 2009 after the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube expelled legislators Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu for insuburdination.

President Mugabe filed papers in the High Court asking for more time before he could proclaim dates for the by-elections saying the government was broke.

The president says about US$38, 3 million is needed for polls to fill all the vacant parliamentary and local government seats. He argues that the country cannot afford to separately hold a constitutional referendum, the by-elections and national polls.

Ray Goba, representing Mr Mugabe, told reporters after the High Court chamber hearing Monday that the president is not opposed to the holding of the elections, just that Harare does not have the resources to sponsor the polls.

Lawyers Tawanda Zhuwarara and Jeremiah Bhamu, representing the three lawmakers argued that the lower court could not amend or substitute the judgement of the Supreme Court.

Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesman of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told VOA the judge did not give reasons for his ruling.
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