Court grants Mugabe by-elections date extension

By Never Kadungure (Political Correspondent)

High Court Judge President George Chiweshe on Tuesday extended dates for by-elections in three vacant constituencies to be held in March next year when a full general (parliamentary and presidential) election is expected to be held.

George Chiweshe
George Chiweshe

President Mugabe was expected to publish by-election dates for Nkayi South, Lupane East and Bulilima East by October 1, but his lawyer Advocate Ray Goba successfully obtained an order for the extension.

Three MPs expelled in 2009 from the smaller MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube took their case to court, arguing they should be allowed to stand as independent candidates in order to win their parliamentary seats back.

Standing in their way was an agreement by all the three major parties in the coalition government that they would not contest each other in the event of vacancies arising. Last year, the High Court in Bulawayo ordered the President to publish the by-election dates within 14 days.

The President appealed to the Supreme Court, resulting in the Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku upholding the High Court’s decision.

An appeal filed by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa argued that “due to the unavailability of financial resources” the holding of by-elections must be delayed so that they can be incorporated into a March 2013 general election.

Tuesday’s ruling by the Judge President, a former effectively means no by-elections will be held until the country goes for harmonised elections.

There are strong concerns however that the country is heading towards elections without meaningful reforms and this will favour Zanu PF who stand accused of manipulating a compromised judiciary to push their political agendas.

Retired Brigadier General George Chiweshe is the former chairperson of the discredited Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that kept Mugabe in power in 2008 by withholding election results for a month while massaging the figures.

In May 2010, Mugabe promoted Chiweshe to Judge President without consulting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. This is despite the MDC-T insisting that the coalition agreement provides for the President and Prime Minister to consult on senior appointments.