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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Zimbabwe: Govt files poll extension bid
    Daniel Nemukuyu, The Herald

    June 19, 2013

    Government has filed an application to extend the July 31 deadline for holding harmonised elections in the wake of an appeal by the Sadc extraordinary summit in Maputo, Mozambique, last weekend.

    Summit urged the inclusive-Government to approach the court to ask for time beyond July 31.

    Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday filed the application on behalf of the Inclusive Government.

    He said President Mugabe has much respect for the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe's judgment and had already complied with it by fixing the election date for July 31.

    Minister Chinamasa said pressure from MDC formations and other political parties in Zimbabwe culminated in Sadc urging Government to seek an extension of the poll date.

    Mr Jealousy Mawarire of the Centre for Elections and Democracy (who obtained the order for the July 31 deadline), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube and the Attorney General were cited as respondents in the application.

    Minister Chinamasa said he was specifically directed by the Sadc summit to make an urgent application for the extension of the election date.

    "During the proceedings at the said summit, I, in particular, was directed to make an urgent application before this Honourable Court (Constitutional Court) to seek a postponement of the date for the harmonised general election from July 31 2013 to August 14 2013," he said.

    "In view of the above and in my capacity as the minister responsible for the administration of the Electoral Act, I pray for an order for the extension of the elections to the 14th of August 2013."

    The relevant part of the communiqué directing Zimbabwe to seek extension of the election date reads: "Summit acknowledged the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe on the election date and agreed on the need for the Government of Zimbabwe to engage the Constitutional Court to seek more time beyond the July 31, 2013 deadline for holding the election."

    Minister Chinamasa emphasised that the application was filed despite the fact that President Mugabe had complied with the court order.

    "I reiterate that His Excellency, the President, Cde RG Mugabe, is respectful of the ruling by this Honourable Court that the rule of law should be restored as regards the electoral process and thus has fully complied with the order of this court in terms of the law without any legal difficulties or impediments," he said.

    "It is only the development referred to above, initiated by the second and fourth respondents (PM Tsvangirai and Prof Ncube) precipitating a directive of the extraordinary summit of Sadc held in Maputo on June 15 2013.

    "In compliance with the order of this Honourable Court, His Excellency the President promulgated the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures Amendment of Electoral Act) Regulations 2013, which align the Electoral Act with the new Constitution. The regulations were published in the Gazette on the 12th of June 2013 . . ."

    The President fixed July 31 as the elections date, with the Nomination Court sitting on June 28 in a proclamation issued on June 13 in terms of Statutory Instrument 86/2013.

    Minister Chinamasa said PM Tsvangirai and Prof Ncube had some misgivings about the order of the Constitutional Court and lobbied Sadc, inviting the regional body to intervene and set aside the court order.

    "Unilaterally, second respondent (PM Tsvangirai) sought an extension to the 31st of October 2013, while fourth respondent (Prof Ncube) suggested an extension to the 9th of September 2013," said Minister Chinamasa. They both latter changed their positions with the second respondent suggesting the 12th of August and the fourth respondent suggesting the 14th of August 2013.

    That, according to Minister Chinamasa, invited Sadc intervention and Government got a directive to seek extension of the Constitutional Court's deadline of July 31.

    Sadc, however, acknowledged that it was up to the Constitutional Court to extend or throw out the application and whatever decision the Court made was to bind all the parties.

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