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'Dumped' Lawmakers Take Mugabe to Supreme Court

President Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwean Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on Monday granted an application filed by three former legislators to hear their appeal against the dismissal of their petition in the High Court on an urgent basis.

The Supreme Court ordered the Registrar of the High Court to prepare the record of proceedings in the lower court and transmit the same to the Supreme Court.

Thereafter, the Registrar of the Supreme Court was also ordered to set down the matter after the appellants, Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu filed their heads of arguments.

The three constituencies of Nkayi South, Bulilima East and Lupane East fell vacant after Bhebhe, Mguni and Mpofu ,who were MPs for those areas on a Movement for Democratic Change ticket, were expelled from the Welshman Ncube party for allegedly "violating the party’s constitution, gross insubordination and for subversive behaviour".

The application for the urgent hearing of the by-elections case was filed by the three legislators’ lawyer Tawanda Zhuwarara of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who argued that there was a need to hear the matter urgently following Judge President Justice George Chiweshe’s ruling a week ago excusing President Robert Mugabe from complying with the court’s order.

But outlining his reasons for upholding the application, Justice Chiweshe had said parliament’s five-year term started when President Robert Mugabe was sworn into office on June 29 in 2009.

“Calculated from that date, there is no doubt whatsoever that the life of the present parliament shall end on June 29, 2013,” he said. “On that date, parliament shall stand dissolved by effluxion of time. It is, however, permissible to extend the life of parliament beyond that date on grounds provided under Section 63 (5) and (6) of the Constitution.

“These sections allow for that extension only if the country is at war or under a declared state of public emergency. No such situation presently obtains in the country.I have no reason to believe otherwise today or in the future.”

Justice Chiweshe also said compelling Mr. Mugabe to set dates for the three by-elections would mean the president must also hold votes in several other constituencies and local authorities around the country which did not make sense since harmonised elections were due to be held this year.

“The court is informed that apart from the three House of Assembly constituencies under consideration, there are further vacancies in other constituencies, namely 16.

Meanwhile, according to Veritas, a not-for-profit institution that provides parliamentary oversight points out that though Hungwe concurred with Mr. Mugabe that elections would be held by 29 June this year, "there is no law that says elections must be held" by that date.