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turn heat on ZEC and Mugabe over referendum as Supreme Court dismisses
NCA referendum application
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
March 13, 2013
influential human rights, labour and social justice activists on
Wednesday 13 March 2013 turned the heat on the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) and President Robert Mugabe after flooding the
Supreme Court with a deluge of lawsuits
In a week of
high legal drama characterised by a litany of litigation, the activists
who included National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairperson, Professor Lovemore
Socialist Organisation (ISO) leader, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Progressive
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe
and Hilary Yuba petitioned the Supreme Court seeking various orders
that could have a bearing on the holding of the referendum scheduled
for Saturday 16 March 2013.
The NCA on Wednesday
13 March 2013 filed an urgent application in the Supreme Court challenging
the appointment of ZEC acting chairperson Joyce Kazembe on the basis
that she cannot occupy such a position and preside over the affairs
of the elections management body because she is not a Judge, a former
Judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court or a person qualified
for appointment as such as a Judge.
The NCA said
Kazembe’s appointment to act as ZEC’s acting chairperson
was in breach of Section 100 B (2) of the Constitution,
which stipulates that the chairperson of ZEC must be a Judge or
a former Judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court or a person
qualified for appointment as such as a Judge.
reform body said ZEC is currently improperly constituted and cannot
competently run any election or referendum until the appointment
of a substantive chairperson or a suitably qualified acting chairperson.
In their Constitutional
application filed on Wednesday 13 March 2013, Majongwe, Gwisai,
Yuba and ISO, who identified themselves as proponents of the “VOTE
NO” campaign argued that they had been denied their right
to a free
and fair referendum because of the limited time to conduct their
campaigns to conscientise their members and hence need an extension
of time before the draft governance charter can be put to a vote.
want President Mugabe to issue a new proclamation of another referendum
date. They also want the State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
(ZBC) to be interdicted from disseminating, promoting, flighting
or carrying any material whether audio or visual solicited by the
three Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) co-chairpersons namely
Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, Douglas Mwonzora and Edward Mkhosi encouraging
citizens to vote “Yes” in the upcoming referendum.
Gwisai and Yuba also want the Supreme Court to order ZBC to afford
free and equitable coverage for them and those legitimately permitted
to lobby for the adoption of the draft COPAC Constitution.
Supreme Court on Wednesday 13 March 2013 set aside
High Court Judge President George Chiweshe’s ruling in which
he had stated that the powers conferred upon President Mugabe are
not justiciable. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku sitting with
Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba and Justices of Appeal Vernanda
Ziyambi, Paddington Garwe and Mary-Anne Gowora ruled that Justice
Chiweshe should have assumed jurisdiction to enquire into the issue
of the irrationality and gross unreasonableness of President Mugabe’s
of 16 March 2013 as the referendum date. However, the Supreme Court
also dismissed the NCA’s appeal
to delay the weekend referendum on the merits.
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