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Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court Postpones Poll Date Hearing

HARARE — The Constitutional Court on Wednesday indefinitely postponed hearing a case brought before it to extend Zimbabwe’s election date by two weeks.

The postponement is largely seen as a government delaying tactic as it seeks to maintain the July 31 election date President Robert Mugabe unilaterally declared in a presidential decree earlier this month.

Political observers say the prolonged haggling over the election date has taken steam out of the push by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for reforms in the media and security sectors. These were critical for levelling the political playing field.

Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) has already said it would not back any reforms and was making preparations for the national elections in line with Mr Mugabe’s announcement. It has dismissed the possibility of an extension from the courts.

Mr Tsvangirai’s lawyer, Selby Hwacha, said in Harare on Wednesday that the court had taken the decision to allow it to consider the counterapplications his client and Welshman Ncube, leader of a smaller faction of the MDC, have filed.

“The chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku will meet all the parties in due course to schedule a hearing,” Mr Hwacha said.

Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Ncube are unhappy with the urgent application to the constitutional court filed by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week, following the recommendations of the Southern African Development Community. The regional body’s summit held in Maputo, Mozambique urged the Zimbabwean authorities to petition the courts for a poll date extension.

Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Ncube agree that Mr Chinamasa’s application does not reflect the reasons for a postponement being necessary. These include the incomplete voter registration exercise, outstanding reforms in the security and media sectors, and the need for a new voter’s roll.

The two leaders argue that Mr Chinamasa’s application has been compiled in such a way as to make it deliberately fail before the courts.

Jonathan Moyo, a top strategist in Zanu (PF), said his party was satisfied with the application and would not waste time pointing out the “nonexistent things” the MDC formations claimed.


Source – BD Live