Mugabe begs for more time

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HARARE – President Robert Mugabe yesterday moved to evade contempt
of court charges by begging the High Court for an extension of time to
allow him to call for a “mini-general election”.

The election could alter the political power equilibrium in Parliament between his Zanu PF party and its political foes.

The
Supreme Court in July confirmed a High Court order that Mugabe should
call for by-elections in three Matabeleland constituencies by the end of
August.

This was after the octogenarian leader had appealed
against High Court judge, Justice Nicholas Ndou’s decision in October
2011 ordering him to ensure by-elections for Nkayi South, Bulilima East
and Lupane East were held, as they were constitutionally long overdue.

But
yesterday, Mugabe pleaded with the High Court to be allowed more time
to mobilise and ascertain the availability of financial resources to
stage a mini-general election in all the vacant parliamentary and
senatorial constituencies in the country including local authorities.

In
an urgent application filed yesterday by the Civil Division of the
Attorney General’s Office, Mugabe disclosed that he would not be able to
comply with the Supreme Court’s order compelling him to gazette dates
for the by-elections by the end of this month and would need a month’s
extension to do so.

Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick
Chinamasa, who deposed an affidavit on behalf of Mugabe, who is
attending the Non-Aligned Movement Mugabe begs for more time summit in
Teheran and will only be back in the country after August 31, said the
Zanu PF leader is desirous to comply with the court’s order and conduct
by-elections not only in the given three Matabeleland constituencies but
to fill the vacant seats in other constituencies.

Mugabe argues
that conducting 28 parliamentary and senatorial by-elections together
with 164 local authority by-elections in the vacant constituencies is
tantamount to holding a mini-general election, which would require the
mobilisation of huge financial resources and wide consultations of which
he has not been able to do in the given period due to “his busy
schedule” and “circumstances beyond his control”.

Chinamasa said
Mugabe will comply with the court order if it is extended by one month
to October 1 as he would have carried out extensive consultations with
other crucial stakeholders and mobilised enough resources to cater for
the holding of the mini-general election.

“Applicant would
however, endeavour to comply with the order if the period within which
to comply is extended by one month,” reads part of Chinamasa’s
affidavit.

Mugabe was initially hauled to the High Court by three
former MDC legislators Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman
Mpofu in 2010 after their parliamentary membership was terminated
following their suspension and subsequent expulsion from the MDC party.

Bhebhe,
Mguni and Mpofu were represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
member, Ndabezinhle Mazibuko, of Calderwood Bryce Hendrie & Partners
Legal Practitioners, while Mugabe was represented by Advocate Ray Goba,
who was instructed by the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s
Office.

The disclosures by Mugabe confirms the abstemious
revelations by Finance minister Tendai Biti who has repeatedly cautioned
those clamouring for the staging of general elections that the
government’s purse was empty and could only fund a referendum  on a new
draft governance charter.

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