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Chinamasa Defies Govt Principals' Order to Withdraw Court Application to Delay July Polls

Supreme Court of Zimbabwe
Supreme Court of Zimbabwe
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa is defying an order from unity government principals to withdraw his court application seeking to postpone national elections to August 14 pending an agreement among governing parties on the election date.

Minister Chinamasa’s lawyer, Freddy Gijima, told reporters outside the Supreme Court building Thursday that his client is not backing down on his application to delay the July 31 elections to August 14.

On the directive of President Robert Mugabe, Mr. Chinamasa approached the court on Tuesday seeking to delay the polls following concerns raised by the president’s coalition partners and Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders at a summit of the regional bloc in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, on June 15.

Prior to the SADC summit, Mr. Mugabe had proclaimed July 31 as the date of national elections without consulting his governing partners.

He had also fast-tracked proposed electoral amendments into law using his presidential powers to by-pass parliament.

On Wednesday, unity government principals met at State House and directed Mr. Chinamasa to withdraw his application pending an agreement on the content of the application by parties in the coalition government.

The principals’ meeting followed complaints by the two Movement for Democratic Change formations in the coalition government that Mr. Chinamasa had acted outside the SADC resolutions.

Mr. Gijima said the minister’s case will now be heard next Wednesday on an urgent basis.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s attorney, Chris Mhike, said his client was surprised by Chinamasa’s actions.

This was also supported by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who is representing Industry Minister Welshman Ncube.

In other election news from the court, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said an application brought to the court by Zimbabwe Development Party leader Kisinoti Mukwazhi will be heard next week.

Mukwazhi wants the court to declare that all parties participating in elections should get campaign funds from Treasury.

Meanwhile, Chidyausiku said all cases to do with the pending polls will be heard next week on a continuous basis.

For perspective on the opposing sides VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo spoke to aspiring lawmaker for Mabvuku Godwills Masimirembwa of ZANU PF and MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora. Mwonzora said President Mugabe is to blame for confusion surrounding the election wrangle.

Mwonzora said under current law, Mr. Mugabe is no longer allowed to make electoral law, and he tried to make electoral law by decre, making SADC frown at Zimbabwe and order Zimbabwe to seek an extention.

Masimirembwa disagreed saying Mugabe acted under the right of the law, and Chinamasa was only follow suit to SADC and the other MDC-formations who asked to extend the date.
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