27 February 2013

Zimbabwe: NCA Referendum Challenge Ruling Deferred, Again

Zimbabwean Justices

A ruling on the urgent chamber application by the NCA, seeking to stop the constitutional referendum taking place on March 16th, has been deferred to Thursday.

Justice Chiweshe who is presiding over the case had been expected to decide on the case on Wednesday, but this is now the third deferment.

The National Constitution Assembly (NCA), led by Lovemore Madhuku, wants the referendum moved to a later date, arguing that the time set aside was 'inadequate' for Zimbabweans to review the draft charter before the vote.

The organisation wants the President to give the nation at least two months to analyse the draft, and for the court to declare unlawful the announcement made on February 15th giving the date as 16th March.

In an opposing affidavit President Mugabe, through the Attorney General's office, is arguing that he is empowered by the Referendums Act to announce the date, and does not need to justify himself.

Mugabe said it was up to the people of Zimbabwe and not pressure groups like the NCA to decide whether or not to approve the draft constitution.

He added that that those against the holding of the referendum or the draft constitution were at liberty to campaign for a 'No Vote' rather than stopping the process.

NCA lawyer Alec Muchadehama insisted that the court challenge was in order since the President's 'proclamations' affected the rights of citizens.

The NCA has said it would campaign for a 'No' vote arguing that the constitution draft was a political deal between parties in the coalition government, and that it did not reflect the will of the people.

ZANU PF and the two MDC formations have since endorsed the document which is set to pave the way for elections later this year.

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