SW Radio Africa (London)

2 October 2012

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Given Another Six Months to Call By-Elections

Photo: This Day
Symbol of justice

A Zimbabwean court has given Robert Mugabe another six months to call for by-elections, after the ZANU PF leader sought an extension on the deadline to set an election date.

Judge President Justice George Chiweshe passed down the decision late on Tuesday evening.

Mugabe was in August granted an extension on the original court ordered deadline to call for the by-elections. That deadline was Monday.

But Mugabe's legal team last week filed another court application seeking more time, using Mugabe's plans to hold general elections next March as the justification for another delay. According to the court papers, Mugabe plans to hold harmonised general elections in March following a constitutional referendum next month.

The case goes back to last October when MPs Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu were fired as MPs for Nkayi South, Lupane East and Bulilima East by the Welshman Ncube-led MDC. This followed accusations that they were siding with the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The MPs then petitioned the High Court to direct the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), its chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi and Mugabe to facilitate the by-elections. The matter was presided over by Justice Nicholas Ndou last year who ordered the by-election process to begin without delay. Ndou dismissed the case against ZEC and Sekeremayi, but upheld the case against Mugabe, ruling that according to the Constitution Mugabe had the power to call for the constituency elections.

The decision was appealed with the Mugabe legal team insisting there isn't money to have by-elections in all the constituencies where there is a vacancy. The recent death of MDC-T Senator Josiah Rimbi from the Chipinge constituency has raised the total number of constituency vacancies to 39, with Parliamentary seat vacancies now at 27.

At the same time, more than a 160 local authority seats are reportedly empty. Observers have said that if Mugabe does call for by-elections to cover all theses vacancies, this would amount to a mini general election.

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