President Robert Mugabe should not be allowed to evade his constitutional responsibility of proclaiming by-elections to fill vacant parliamentary seats on the basis of “flimsy excuses such as sanctions”, former Lupane East MP, Njabuliso Mguni said Friday.
Mguni, alongside other former MPs for Nkayi South and Bulilima East, Abednico Bhebhe and Norman Mpofu respectively, recently made a High Court application to compel Mugabe to proclaim elections in their constituencies.
They said they wanted to stand as independent candidates in the three constituencies which fell vacant after they were expelled from MDC-M last year because of their association with the rival MDC-T party.
In an opposing affidavit filed on his behalf by Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, Mugabe said government did not have the amount of $38 291 919,80 required to successfully conduct by-elections in various constituencies with vacant seats in the country.
“Sanctions imposed against the country and which are still continuing, have wreaked havoc on the economy of the country and the government finds itself in a situation in which it has very little fiscal space,” he said.
“For this reason, and this reason alone, it has not been possible to hold by-elections to give effect to the Constitution and our electoral laws. As soon as I am informed by the Minister of Finance that resources have been secured and are available for the purposes of holding elections, third respondent(Mugabe) will have no hesitation in ensuring that by-elections are conducted expeditiously in all the constituencies and wards in which vacancies have occurred,” Mugabe said.
However, Mguni dismissed this as an attempt to “hide behind a finger”.
“Sanctions . . . What sanctions?’’ Mguni fumed yesterday. “Sanctions are only targeted at Mugabe, Chinamasa and other Zanu PF officials.
How do they come into the holding of elections?
That is a flimsy excuse. It merely tells you that Zanu PF has not reformed. They do not want to observe the rule of law.
“They should abide by the dictates of the Constitution, simple.”
He said government should provide funds for the by-elections in the same manner that it started off with no money but was able to conduct the constitution outreach exercise currently underway.
“There is no political will to hold the by-elections, mostly because some people are afraid that we will embarrass their friends when elections are held in their constituencies,” Mguni said. “We are pressing for those elections. We want democracy.”
The other two applicants, Bhebhe and Mpofu, could not be reached for comment Friday.
In the event that by-elections are held the three parties in government have a pact not to field candidates against each other, but the party that previously held the seat could contest for it against other parties or independent candidates.
MDC-M has already accused the rival MDC-T of planning to field Mguni, Mpofu and Bhebhe as “proxy candidates”, accusations which MDC-T denies.