Tsvangirai vows to challenge election date proclamation


HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday vowed to legally challenge President Robert Mugabe’s unilateral proclamation of July 31 as the poll date.

Tsvangirai told a news conference yesterday that he was going to take up the matter with regional leaders at the special Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) summit in Maputo on Saturday.

“I have clearly reflected on the matter and this morning, to defend the Constitution, I instructed my attorneys to file an urgent court application,” Tsvangirai told reporters at Charter House.

 “As Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and the president of the MDC, I will not accept a situation where Zimbabweans will yet again be railroaded and frog-marched to another illegitimate and violent election.”

Tsvangirai said under the new Constitution that came into force on May 22, mandatory amendments to the Electoral Act could only be effected by an Act of Parliament and regulations made under the Presidential Powers Act do not qualify as an Act of Parliament.

“As the preamble to the Presidential Powers Act confirms, it allows the president to make regulations but not to enact an Act of Parliament,” he argued.

He said the court had an obligation to review its previous resolution in the face of new evidence as the key reforms — which his party has been fighting for — had not been implemented and because Zimbabwe lacked the resources to hold elections.

The election is expected to end the “marriage of convenience” entered into in 2008 after a disputed presidential run-off election.

Tsvangirai accused his long-time rival for committing a “legal coup”.

The premier, who is leaving today for the Sadc summit, said he will brief guarantors of the coalition government on the crisis in Zimbabwe as key security sector and media reforms which his party has been pushing for are yet to be implemented.

Strengthening his argument that Mugabe’s  proclamation was a “a clear, flagrant and fraudulent breach of the Constitution”, Tsvangirai said if all legal processes are considered, the earliest date that Zimbabwe could hold an election was August 25.

Meanwhile, Patrick Chinamasa, Justice and Legal Affairs minister told diplomats that the president had to use Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) to fast-track the electoral law amendments.

Chinamasa said Mugabe proclaimed the election date unilaterally to comply with the recent Constitutional Court ruling which set July 31 as the final date for polls.

“We avoided a situation where other political parties would accuse the president of contravening the constitution by not abiding by the Constitutional Court ruling,” Chinamasa said.

“We were avoiding a situation where other political parties would use that to dehumanise our president, lambast him and turning the matter as their political manifesto.

“The president consulted on how to go about it after the Constitutional Court which took me by surprise.

“It has been a traumatic period in coming up with those regulations that were enacted yesterday. We had a short period of time but we had to comply with the Constitutional Court, which is the highest court of the land.

“If the president was not to comply, it would set a wrong precedent for the country. As you know, the president is a law abiding citizen and believes in the rule of law.” – Bridget Mananavire and Xolisani Ncube

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