The Herald (Harare)

17 April 2013

Zimbabwe: Supreme Court Grants Ex-Legislators' Case Urgency

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku yesterday granted an application by three former MDC lawmakers who were seeking an urgent hearing of their appeal to nullify a High Court ruling on by-election dates. The three legislators — Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Njabuliso Mguni (Bulilima East) and Norman Mpofu (Lupane East) — wanted an urgent hearing of their appeal, which they filed at the apex court last week to overturn the lower court's decision granting President Mugabe an extension of the March 31 by-election deadline to June 29.

Judge President George Chiweshe allowed President Mugabe's request for extension of the by-election deadline saying the holding of by-election would be costly and unnecessary because the new legislators would be in office for a very short period as the life of Parliament would end by June 29.

He also said there was nothing to suggest that the country could be at war or under a state of emergency to warrant the extension of the tenure of Parliament. But Chief Justice Chidyausiku yesterday felt there was nothing amiss in having the appeal by the three legislators heard on an urgent basis.

"It is ordered that . . . the appeal filed under case Number SC118/13 shall be heard on an urgent basis in connection with which...applicants shall at their expense immediately cause the preparation of court record under Case Number HC2362/13," said Chief Justice Chidyausiku.

The Chief Justice also ordered the Registrar of the High Court to supervise the preparation of the record as a matter of priority and that should immediately transmit it to the registrar of the superior court upon completion.

"Within five days of the receipt by the Registrar of this court of the record prepared as contemplated by clause . . . above, appellants shall file their heads of argument in support of the appeal," said Chief Justice Chidyausiku.

He said once the three legislators filed their heads of argument, the Registrar should set down the hearing of the appeal on an urgent basis.

The three former MDC lawmakers want their appeal to be dealt with urgently saying the High Court erred in overriding its earlier decision that was upheld at the Supreme Court compelling the President to proclaim the dates for the by-election by March 31.

The trio also claims that the judgment impacts on the execution of many orders granted by the courts in this country.

The country is expected to hold general elections by June 29 when Parliament is dissolved and Justice Chiweshe ruled that if the by-elections were held now, the tenure of the legislators would be brief.

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