3 June 2013

Zimbabwe: MDC Questions Validity of Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court

Photo: IRIN
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, left, and President Robert Mugabe.

The MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube has questioned the validity of the newly formed Constitutional Court saying the nine member judges who passed a ruling in the court last Friday ordering the running of elections by July 31st, has not been constituted yet.

MDC Secretary General Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga added more confusion to the controversy surrounding the holding of Zimbabwe's next election when she said in a statement on Monday: "We do not understand under what law the nine member constitutional court was constituted since the part of the constitution which provides for a nine member constitutional court has not come into effect and will only come into effect when a new president is sworn in after the elections."

The Secretary General said her party is "perplexed and bewildered" by the ruling which effectively gives President Robert Mugabe a two month deadline to call for harmonized polls.

Only two of the nine member panel of judges disagreed with the ruling with Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba saying in his opinion the decision ordering the holding of election by July 31st "defied logic" and compromised the rights of the voters.

ZANU PF, which favours early polls welcomed the ruling but the MDC Secretary General said the court has chosen to "lend individual authority to the political agendas of not just a political party but an anarchist faction of that political party [referring to Zanu-PF]."

Party spokesman Nhlanhla Dube told SW Radio Africa that the judgment does not aid the democratic process but will result in a "shotgun" election.

"In our view history informs us of what is going to happen in the future and no one can suddenly inform us that (Registrar General) Tobaiwa Mudede is going to do all that is required on time.

"You still need to synchronize and come up with an Electoral Bill which needs to go to cabinet, go to parliament, and go to the senate before it's signed by the president. That has not even been agreed to, and you expect that to be done within the next 12 days because a proclamation must be made within the next 12 days."

The MDC spokesman said attitudes need to be changed and political commitment needed if Zimbabwe is to have an uncontested election.

The MDC formations in the coalition government have been calling for elections to be held later after key reforms have been implemented. They now intend to call the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, the Southern African Development Community, to put pressure on Mugabe to implement the necessary reforms so that Zimbabwe does not have another contested election.

SADC is set to hold an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe in Harare on June 9th.

It is at this summit that regional leaders are expected to ask for a clear election roadmap from Mugabe; although ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo says the meeting would primarily deal with election funding that has been promised by the regional body. "The question of a roadmap and so on is so wishy-washy. It's all nonsense that people want to inject but there is really nothing of that matter," revealed Gumbo.

South African facilitators are expected to do some groundwork in Zimbabwe early this week ahead of the SADC summit. Lindiwe Zulu, the International Relations advisor to South African President Jacob Zuma, was in meetings in Japan on Monday when contacted for comment.

The MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has also slammed the decision by the country's highest court saying it had 'overstepped its mandate'. But the National Constitutional Assembly welcomed the decision by the Constitutional Court, which it says has made three critical principles which must stand as a guide for Zimbabwe, namely:

That there must at all times have the three organs of state in place and not just be under rule by the executive. It showed that any individual has a right to approach the courts and insist on the country being governed in accordance with the law, and that the timing of elections is not an "exclusive terrain of self-serving politicians."

NCA chairman Dr. Lovemore Madhuku said in statement that the country cannot be in a permanent election mode and political parties, including SADC, should work within the time frame issued by the court.

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