THE High Court has agreed with President Robert Mugabe that the country has no money to hold by-elections in the three constituencies that ex-legislators demand polls be held.
Report by Feluna Nleya, Staff Reporter
Judge President George Chiweshe released the full judgment in which he outlines reasons for granting Mugabe his application requesting the extension of dates to hold by-elections to March next year.
The judgment, which was released on Wednesday, accepted as valid and sincere the argument by the President that government did not have the resources to hold the polls.
Early this month, Justice Chiweshe ruled in favour of President Mugabe, allowing him to postpone the elections until March 31 next year.
“In the circumstances, I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the applicant’s explanation and his reasons for seeking an extension of the time within which he is required to execute the order of this court,” reads the judgment.
“He has offered a reasonable explanation for the indulgence he seeks and by approaching this court timeously, he has demonstrated his wish to abide by the court’s order, but for the constraints he alludes to.”
He added: “In the instant case the applicant avers that despite previous extensions, the resources necessary for the conduct of the by-elections are not yet at hand. It stands to reason that without resources, the by-elections cannot be held notwithstanding any order of this court to the contrary. This court is not in a position to reject the applicant’s explanation that he does not have the resources needed to perform as ordered.”
The judge said the respondents did not oppose what the President had said about the resources.
“The respondents have not even suggested that the applicant is acting dishonestly when he pleads lack of resources, or, put differently, impossibility of performance by virtue of that reason. Save for stating that the applicant is duty-bound in its budgetary allocation to set aside funds are available or whether if so, same had been made available in the budget and whether, if that be the case, the applicant is reluctant or for some reason, ill-disposed towards expending same for the purpose for which they were intended.”
Justice Chiweshe also said that Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa had the right to speak on behalf of the President.
“By virtue of his position (as Justice minister), I would hold that he has authority to speak on behalf of the applicant and, for purposes of this application, on behalf of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as well,” Justice Chiweshe said in his judgment.
In July this year, the Supreme Court ordered Mugabe to proclaim by-election dates in three constituencies by August 30, but the President approached the courts seeking a month’s extension to push the deadline to September 30. At the expiry of the September deadline, however, he made another application seeking a further extension to March 31, 2013, which Justice Chiweshe granted.