HARARE – The decision by the Constitutional Court on Thursday to dismiss the application to have poll dates extended beyond the end of this month means the battle of the political titans, Zanu PF and the MDC, is now truly on.
Elections are now set for July 31 as proclaimed by President Robert Mugabe against the opinions of Sadc, the African Union and the world at large.
Reacting to the ruling, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the court should have adhered to the Sadc directive.
“It would have been better had the court listened and abided to the advice of those who created this institution of the inclusivegovernment, who are Sadc.
“They (Sadc) made the resolution in good intend of having a free and fair election. In this case the MDC president and the party leadership will sit down to study the import of this judgment,” Tamborinyoka said.
Welshman Ncube’s spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube said the court’s ruling was a Zanu PF decision.
“It is the decision that was going to come out the way it did. Chinamasa’s application was like a man who writes to a lady proposing a relationship but does so in such a language that the woman can only say no. Only Zanu PF can win a soccer game played using Rugby rules,” Dube said.
His deputy Kurauone Chihwayi said “It’s game on”.
“We are ready for the elections and we will be launching our campaign programme on July 10 and the party manifesto on July 20 in Chikomba and Binga respectively,” Chihwayi told the Daily News.
On the other hand, Zanu PF’s director of information Psychology Maziwisa said the former ruling party is excited by the court’s ruling.
“It shows that there is rule of law in Zimbabwe and our courts are sovereign. It also put those who wanted to delay our election in shame. As a party, we hope that people are going to judge the main political parties in Zimbabwe according to what they have done in the past four years,” Maziwisa said.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ruled that elections should proceed on July 31, rendering a Sadc directive for an extension of the date ineffective.
In a decision reached unanimously by a panel of nine judges at the Constitutional Court, Chidyausiku dismissed Tsvangirai’s application, which had been consolidated with those of Welshman Ncube, Nixon Nyikadzino and Maria Phiri.
All the applicants were seeking an extension of the election date.
The respondents in the application were President Robert Mugabe, Patrick Chinamasa, Jealousy Mawarire, the Attorney General, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Arthur Mutambara.
“For the avoidance of doubt, elections should be held by the 31st of July in terms of a proclamation issued by the President of Zimbabwe and in compliance with an order of this court,” said Chidyausiku.
The four applications were made after Mugabe proclaimed July 31 as the day for the holding of elections, following a Constitutional Court order.
However, his coalition partners Tsvangirai and Ncube approached Sadc leaders and told them that Mugabe had unilaterally proclaimed the election date in breach of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
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.
Chinamasa made the application on Mugabe’s behalf, which Tsvangirai and Ncube said was weak, forcing them to file counter applications.
Chinamasa’s lawyer Fred Gijima on Thursday left the court in stitches when he said his client made the application at the instance of Sadc and whatever the outcome, the court was going to make, it made no difference.
“He (Chinamasa) has been whipped by Sadc to plead with you (court) to extend the election date,” Gijima said.
He said Chinamasa saw nothing wrong with Mugabe’s proclamation.
Chidyausiku thanked him for entertaining the court.
During proceedings, deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba said the court had no power to postpone the election date.
“No court has a power to postpone an election. I am still to hear in the world, where a court has jurisdiction to postpone an election.
"You cannot postpone an election when a proclamation has been made,” Malaba said, questioning why the PM had not filed his request before Mugabe’s proclamation.
He said Tsvangirai should have approached the court rather than seeking Sadc leaders’ assistance.
Malaba said according to the Electoral Law, Mugabe was the only person who had powers to alter his proclamation or to postpone an election.
However, Lewis Uriri said Tsvangirai acted properly because Sadc is the guarantor to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that came into place after a disputed 2008 bloody election.
Uriri further told the court that Mugabe’s declaration was a nullity and therefore unlawful. He said no one knew Mugabe was going to make the proclamation on the 13th of June.
“The holding of elections on the 31st in accordance with the Presidential Powers regulation will be a breach of the Constitution and people’s fundamental rights,” Uriri said.
Chidyausiku said probably Tsvangirai had lost the lock to the keys, after the premier was quoted saying he had the keys to the elections.
He said all the applications come after the “mother of illegality”, since elections were supposed to be held on June 29, when the Parliament was dissolved.
Chidyausiku questioned on the rights that Tsvangirai was claiming had been violated by the proclamation for the holding of elections on July 31.
“The biggest infringement is the failure to hold elections by June 29,” said Chidyausiku.
He said Mugabe had complied with a court order, but Uriri said the compliance was unlawful.
Ncube and Phiri were represented by Thabani Mpofu, while Mugabe was represented by Terence Hussein. Joseph Mandizha appeared on behalf of Mawarire.