THE case where MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora has approached the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) seeking postponement of this year’s general elections took a new twist yesterday after the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) opposed his application.
Prominent human rights lawyer Jeremiah Bamu also filed a separate application seeking inclusion in the matter.
Bamu won despite Mwonzora and the MDC-T opposing his admission as an interested party when the matter was heard before ConCourt judge Justice Anne-Marie Gowora yesterday.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the Justice ministry did not oppose Bamu’s application.
Harare North legislator Allan Markham (CCC) filed an application at the High Court seeking an order that nullifies the delimitation report to allow for the holding of elections under old delimitation boundaries.
In his application filed together with one Prince Tigere, Markham cited Zec, Mnangagwa, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Attorney-General as respondents.
Bamu said his application was influenced by the need to protect the Constitution and ensure Mnangagwa’s term is not extended on a technicality.
Mwonzora and his party last month approached the ConCourt seeking an order to stop Mnangagwa from proclaiming election dates because of the controversy surrounding the gazetted Zec delimitation report.
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The MDC-T leader is seeking an order declaring the gazetted report as illegal.
Zimbabwe expects to hold general elections between July and August this year.
Mwonzora was granted the greenlight recently to file his argument at the ConCourt, and his case will be heard by the full bench on Monday.
Seven of Zec’s nine commissioners distanced themselves from the delimitation report, which Mnangagwa gazetted on February 21 this year.
“The applicant is a registered voter with an intention to vote during the 2023 elections,” Bamu said.
“The applicant bears an interest in the proceedings as they concern proper delimitation of the electoral boundaries and the potential prohibition against proclamation of the dates of the 2023 elections.
“The applicant intends to make submissions which will be useful and different from those parties on matters determined by this court.
“It is in the interest of justice that the applicant be admitted in this matter.
“I learnt from then Press reports that the applicants in the main matter had been granted direct access to this court.
“I understand that the applicants are required to file their heads of argument on April 27 and respond by May 4.
“I am also advised that the main matter has been set for hearing on May 8.”
Bamu pleaded with the court to allow him to make his submissions on the case, specifically focusing on constitutional provisions on elections and the term of office of the President, Parliament and Senate.
“I wish to specifically focus on the ultimate question whether the Constitution Court can be requested to make an order that would effectively amend the Constitution by prolonging the life of the local authorities, Parliament and the Presidency to a period longer than five-year term envisaged by section 158 of the Constitution,” he submitted.
“Relief granted by this court must always be intended to vindicate the Constitution, deter future infringement of the Constitution and punish egregious violation of the Constitution.
“Such an order must necessarily ensure those general elections are held not later than 30 days before the current term which commenced on August 26, 2018 and will end on August 26, 2023.
“The polling should be held no sooner than 30 days after the nomination of candidates and such nomination must be at least 14 days after the publication of the election proclamation.”
Bamu is represented by lawyers Tererai Mafukidze and Agyver Sawunyama, who are being instructed by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
On Tuesday, legal think-tank Veritas said it doubted that the ConCourt would postpone the elections.
Mnangagwa has already said he would proclaim the date for the elections before the end of this month.
In its latest Election Watch publication, Veritas said: “Whether the court will order a postponement of the elections is doubtful because there is nothing in the Constitution or the Electoral Act expressly giving the court power to make such an order.”