The recently-constituted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it has no authority to call by-elections to fill vacant parliamentary seats, stating only President Robert Mugabe has that “limited prerogative.”
Defending itself this week in a High Court lawsuit filed by three former members of Parliament who want by-elections in their former constituencies, the electoral body said it can only conduct the by-elections once Mr. Mugabe has officially proclaimed the ballots.
Former lawmakers Abednico Bhebhe, Norman Mpofu and Njabuliso Mguni of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara filed the lawsuit last month asking the court to order the electoral authority and President Mugabe to set elections.
The three lost the right to represent their former constituencies when they were expelled from the Mutambara MDC formation. The commission has asked that the suit be dismissed.
Lawyer Matshobana Ncube, representing the former lawmakers, said President Mugabe, cited as third respondent, asked Wednesday for more time to respond.
Political analyst Effie Dlela Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that forthcoming reform of the electoral system should give the commission the power to call by-elections.
"This is all a result of the current constitution that puts President Mugabe on top of every situation. That must end," Ncube commented.