Poll showdown today

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HARARE – The Constitutional Court will on Thursday deal with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and three others’ applications, in which the quartet is contesting the holding of elections by end of this month.

The four applications were made after President Robert Mugabe unilaterally proclaimed July 31 as the day for the holding of elections, following a Constitutional Court order.

However, his coalition partner Tsvangirai approached Sadc leaders and told them that Mugabe had unilaterally proclaimed the election date in breach of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

The Sadc petition came after Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa (CEDSA) director, and founding trustee Jealousy Mawarire had won a court case ordering Mugabe to call for elections by end of this month.

But, Tsvangirai said the 89-year-old leader’s poll timetable made it impossible to complete reforms in the pro-Mugabe police and military widely blamed for State-orchestrated violence in previous elections.

Tsvangirai said it would be now difficult to implement reforms in the partisan State-controlled media if polls are held on 31 July.

The regional bloc’s leaders directed Mugabe to go back to the Constitutional Court to seek a variation of the July 31, poll date after noting that it will be impossible to have elections by that date.

Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa made the application on Mugabe’s behalf.

However, following the application, Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube filed counter applications, arguing the minister’s request was weak and did not include their input.

Lawyers have since agreed to have Tsvangirai and Ncube together with a Bulawayo woman Maria Phiri and activist Nixon Nyikadzino as principal applicants, while Mugabe, Chinamasa, Mawarire, the Attorney General, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and Arthur Mutambara were made respondents.

All the applicants are demanding an extension of the poll date, citing the need for a free and fair election.

Lewis Uriri, who is representing Tsvangirai and Nyikadzino told journalists on Tuesday that the case was ready for hearing today soon after Uriri — together with other lawyers appearing on behalf of the parties involved — had a meeting with chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku in his chambers.

“We are basically saying proclamation date is unlawful but even assuming that the proclamation is lawful, the Presidential Powers, Temporary Act amendment of Electoral Law regulations are themselves unconstitutional.

“We headed to an argument that there is no electoral law, there is no proclamation and we want the President to properly proclaim a new election date,” Lewis Uriri said.

The full bench of nine judges is today expected to deal with the issue, which has kept Zimbabweans in limbo as July 31, fast approaches.

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