PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader Welshman Ncube have closed ranks with President Robert Mugabe on the question of when he should proclaim the dates for holding the forthcoming harmonised elections.
REPORT BY CHARLES LAITON
Although Mugabe, through his lawyer Terrence Hussein, maintained in the Supreme Court yesterday that elections should have been held by June 29 this year, he admitted it was no longer feasible given the lapse of time.
The 89-year-old veteran leader further argued he had acted within the confines of the law by not proclaiming the election date.
“The best way is for this court to give the best way forward and only this court has a duty to ensure we have Parliament by June 29 . . . Coalition governments have been known to bring problems the world over, but regrettably we have lost the timeline if we are to go by in terms of the Electoral Act. We, therefore, accept and expect the court to give the way forward given the new Constitution,” Mugabe said.
Tsvangirai, through his lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, concurred with Mugabe that he had not violated any laws by not proclaiming the election date although Parliament would legally dissolve by June 29 this year.
The MDC-T leader’s arguments were supported by Ncube, who, through his lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, said Mugabe had ample time to proclaim the election date contrary to an argument by lobby group Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa (CEDSA).
CEDSA recently sought an order compelling Mugabe and his coalition government partners to immediately proclaim dates for the harmonised elections.
“It is clear and we all agree together with the applicant (Jealous Mawarire for CEDSA) that Parliament has not been dissolved until June 29. There is no breach of declaration of right by the first respondent (Mugabe) since the Constitution states that he shall proclaim the election dates within the period of four months after the dissolution of Parliament,” Tsvangirai’s lawyer Uriri said.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku asked Uriri in the event that Parliament would dissolve by June 29 and assuming Mawarire’s argument was correct, where would Mugabe and his coalition partners derive the powers to run the government from if elections were not held by that date.
Uriri responded saying: “According to the new Constitution, the President, Vice-Presidents, Prime Minister, his Deputy, Ministers and their Deputies would continue running the Cabinet as successors until the next President-elect deriving the power from the charter.”
He further argued there were two methods by which Parliament could be dissolved, one by way of proclamation by the Head of State and the other by operation of the law, of which Mugabe had not breached either of the two.
Justice Chidyausiku left the court in stitches when he said Mawarire feared Mugabe would have four bonus months to rule after the expiry of his term if he did not call for elections.
Mawarire’s lawyer Joseph Mandizha insisted his client’s rights had been infringed by Mugabe and his coalition partners’ conduct.
He said the delay by the inclusive government principals in proclaiming election dates was disenfranchising the electorate and “causing unnecessary confusion when it was a legal fact that Parliament would be dissolved on June 29”.
Judgment in the matter was reserved.
This becomes the second lawsuit filed against Mugabe over the same issue after three former MDC MPs from Matabeleland filed an application recently seeking to compel the Zanu PF leader to proclaim dates for by-elections in three constituencies in the region.