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Judge: Tsvangirai to Stay Out of Mugabe's Bye-Election Dispute

The High Court today said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai does not have a role to play in the determination of dates for by-elections following an application by his lawyers seeking to be joined with President Robert Mugabe in a matter before the courts in which the president sought to be excused from complying with an order given last year to proclaim dates for three by-elections before March 31.

Judge president George Chiweshe said Mr. Tsvangirai has no say in the date of the by-elections for three constituencies - Nkayi, Bulilima East and Lupane East.

Justice Chiweshe said the prime minister has no role in the by-election dispute between President Mugabe and Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu, all former legislators of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube.

Judge Chiweshe’s comments came during a hearing in which Mr. Tsvangirai was seeking to be a respondent in the case.

The High Court last year ordered the president to proclaim the election dates by March 31 but in an urgent application a fortnight ago, President Mugabe, asked the court to excuse him from complying with the order arguing it made no economic sense to hold the by-elections as he was going to dissolve parliament and call for harmonised elections before or on June 29 this year.

The matter was scheduled to be heard last Thursday but was postponed to today after Mr. Tsvangirai approached the court seeking to be joined in the matter.

The prime minister argued Mr. Mugabe had not consulted him on the dates for the crucial general election as is required by the global political agreement.
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But today Deputy Attorney General, Prince Machaya, representing the president, told the court he was amending his application to drop the issue of general elections.

Attorney Chris Mhike for Mr. Tsvangirai said they are waiting for Machaya to amend his application so the case can be heard tomorrow.

Machaya said the court will now decide on the issue of by-elections only and will specifically determine the expiry date of the current parliament.

Mr. Mhike said in light of President Mugabe’s amendment to his application, the prime minister may reconsider his application for a joinder.