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Constitutional Court: Zimbabwe to Hold General Elections July 31

Supreme Court of Zimbabwe
The Constitutional Court on Thursday dismissed an application filed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube seeking to delay the July 31 national elections.

Delivering the court judgment, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, said all the nine members of the bench unanimously found no merit in applications brought up by Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Ncube seeking to delay the polls.

Mr. Tsvangirai and Professor Ncube wanted the court to rescind its decision made last month ordering President Robert Mugabe to ensure that fresh polls are held no later than July 31.

The basis of their argument was that the president acted outside the constitution by not consulting his governing partners in the coalition government in proclaiming the election date.

During the hearing of the case, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s attorney, Fred Gijima, said the minister was now abandoning his application to have the poll extended to August 14 in line with recommendations of the Southern African Development Community.

A summit of the regional bloc urged Harare to delay polls by at least two weeks from the proclaimed date to allow for the implementation of key democratic reforms.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s lawyer, Advocate Lewis Uriri, told the court the elections were supposed to be conducted under new electoral laws that would have passed through parliament in line with provisions of the new constitution.

But President Mugabe used his presidential powers to by-pass parliament and gazetted the new electoral amendments that were agreed on by all the political parties represented in cabinet.

The president’s attorney, Terrence Hussein, argued that Mr. Mugabe has powers to do so under the Presidential Powers and Temporary Measures Act, adding that no new electoral laws will be valid for the purposes of a pending election once a proclamation of the polling date has been made.

Jealous Mawarire’s lawyer, Joseph Mandizha, said the court had no jurisdiction to revise its own decision. Mawarire brought the initial case that saw the court ordering Mr. Mugabe to announce the July 31 election date.

Meanwhile, Justice Chidyausiku said the reasons for dismissing the counter applications filed by Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Ncube will be delivered in a full judgment to be made available later.

Hussein welcomed the court’s decision to uphold July 31 as the election date.

Ncube’s lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, said what is now left is for Zimbabweans to prepare to go to the elections.

Thursday’s ruling means that the polls will go ahead in the absence of media and security sector reforms the MDC formations have been calling for.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe is expected to launch his 2013 election campaign at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare’s Highfields high density suburb Thursday and Mr. Tsvangirai will do the same for his party at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on Sunday.

For perspective on the ruling VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo spoke with political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya and ZANU PF deputy director of information, Psychology Maziwisa.

Maziwisa said the ruling by the Constitutional Court confirms the rule of law prevails in Zimbabwe.

Ruhanya disagreed that although Zimbabweans should gear for a July 31 election date, the acting and ruling by the court was illegal and did not have the interest of the people in line.
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