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of Zimbabwe's electoral laws
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Weekly Media Update 2006-30
July 24th 2006 - Sunday July 30th 2006
of Zimbabwe’s electoral laws hastily cobbled together in time for
last year’s parliamentary election were brought to light this week
by only one privately owned weekly newspaper. The government controlled
media all ignored a landmark Supreme Court ruling that found that
a provision in the Electoral Act dealing with the appointment of
judges to the Electoral Court was unconstitutional and that as a
result, the court had been improperly constituted.
left to The Financial Gazette (27/7) to report that the Supreme
Court found Section 162 (1) of the Electoral Act, which empowers
the Chief Justice to appoint judges to preside over election petitions,
contravened Section 92(1) of the Constitution which limits such
powers to the President in consultation with the Judicial Services
credit, the paper also highlighted the implications of this ruling
on the election petitions filed by the opposition MDC after the
March poll. It noted that the ruling had rendered "all
the decisions made by the Electoral Court of 2005… null and void".
one MDC lawyer, Chris Mhike, pointed out that although all the Electoral
Court’s judgments had "become meaningless",
there was still a legal battle the petitioners had to fight
as the timeframe within which their cases could be heard had lapsed.
Said Mhike: "The difficulty for the petitioners is that
the six-month period, in which election petitions had to be determined,
has now lapsed while government refused to correct the law and electoral
judges refused to refer the question of their appointment."
Independent (28/7) story Zanu PF fails to cough up for poll
petitions only gave a cursory reference to the Supreme Court
judgment saying: "This means the cases (MDC petitions)
can be brought back to court." There was no independent
legal comment on the observation.
the censoring of this important ruling by the government media,
which has a duty to fully inform their audiences of important developments
of public interest. Efforts by these media to suffocate such news
vindicate civil society’s view that the nation urgently needs more
newspapers and radio and television stations to ensure that the
public’s right to know is guaranteed.
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