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Chinamasa Ordered to Withdraw Court Application for Fresh Election Date

Unity government principals met at State House on Wednesday and ordered Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to withdraw his application seeking an extension of the election date to August 14th.

The meeting followed complaints by the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations in the coalition government that Mr. Chinamasa had acted outside the directive of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and leader of the other MDC formation, Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, met at State House where the three leaders agreed that the justice minister should withdraw his application filed in the constitutional court Tuesday seeking a postponement of the July 31 elections to August 14.

Prior to a summit of the SADC leaders held Saturday in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, Mr. Mugabe had announced July 31 as the date of national elections and fast-tracked electoral amendments into law using his presidential powers to by-pass parliament.

The regional bloc urged Harare’s unity government parties to immediately undertake measures that would create a conducive environment for the holding of credible polls.

The summit also called on the coalition partners to seek the constitutional court’s approval to delay the elections and implement key democratic reforms to pave the way for free and fair elections.

However, on the directive of the president, Mr. Chinamasa went ahead to file the application without consulting Mr. Mugabe’s governing partners.

Following Wednesday’s meeting of the unity government principals, Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, told VOA Studio 7 that the three leaders ordered Mr. Chinamasa to withdraw the application pending consultations of all parties.

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the justice minister had crafted his application in such a way that the constitutional court would dismiss the application to force an election on July 31 – a date that President Mugabe had proclaimed before the SADC summit.

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute – a local think-tank – said Mr. Mugabe’s behavior to unilaterally file papers in the constitutional court outside the SADC directive was demeaning the regional bloc and the president’s coalition partners.

SADC urged the unity government to implement media reforms and to ensure the rule of law prevails in the country to create a level playing field ahead of the elections.