22 August 2008

Zimbabwe: Presidential Aspirant Goes to Supreme Court

Harare — PRESIDENTIAL aspirant, Justine Chiota, who is the leader of the Zimbabwe People's Party (ZPP), has lodged a constitutional application with the Supreme Court seeking the nullification of President Robert Mugabe's swearing-in on June 29 as the new president of Zimbabwe.

In the application lodged in the Supreme Court last Friday, Chiota, a entrepreneur whose business interests include aviation, media, security and transport, is also seeking to have the Zimbabwean leader barred from swearing in new members of the Senate and the House of Assembly on the grounds that the March 29 elections were unconstitutional.

Early this month, the Supreme Court declared the refusal by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to accept Chiota's nomination papers in February for the presidential election, null and void.

A five-judge constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ruled that the refusal by ZEC chief elections officer Ignatius Mushangwe to receive the documents was unlawful in terms of the country's electoral laws.

According to court papers made available to The Financial Gazette, Chiota is seeking an order declaring that the "subsequent annou-ncement of the results of the said election, the holding of the run-off election on the 27th of June 2008, the declaration of the 2nd respondent (President Mu-gabe) as the winner thereof and his subsequent swearing in and assumption of the office is null and void and is hereby set aside."

He further wants the courts to declare void the holding of the stalled talks mediated by Southern African Development Com-munity (SADC)'s-appointed mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Justice George Chiweshe, the chairman of ZEC, is the first respondent in the matter, President Mugabe, the second, Morgan Tsvangirai third, Simba Makoni fourth, Langton Towungana fifth and Arthur Mutambara is the sixth. All were served courtpapers last Friday.

They have until tomorrow to file opposing papers.

However, if the Supreme Court grants Chiota the order sought, ZEC would be required, within 90 days, to conduct an election for the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe and all the parties in the SADC talks would be barred and interdicted from proceeding with the stalled talks to work out a negotiated settlement.

The order would also bar President Mugabe from swearing-in Senate and House of Assembly representatives as per the outcome of the elections held on March 29, 2008.

New legislators will be sworn in when parliament, according to Austin Zvoma, the Clerk of Parliament, reconvenes next week.

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