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ZEC appeals against poll delay

Godfrey Marawanyika

ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission chairman Justice George Chiweshe has filed an urgent application with the Electoral Court and Supreme Court challenging a ruling by the Electoral Court last

week enabling incarcerated MP Roy Bennett to stand in Chimanimani.

The court postponed the poll to next month.

In its appeal the ZEC argues this would “inconv-enience” other candidates.

Economist Samuel Undenge is standing on the Zanu PF ticket in the constituency.

The appeal, lodged on Tuesday, follows President Robert Mugabe’s outburst last week when he said that the ruling by the Electoral Court to postpone the election had to be contested.

Mugabe’s utterances were roundly condemned by lawyers and civics both locally and internationally.

According to the court papers, Chiweshe claimed that the judgement by Justice Tendai Uchena was flawed.

The ZEC is seeking an interim order from the Electoral Court suspending the March 8 ruling pending a determination by the Supreme Court.

The Commission has also filed an application in the Supreme Court praying the court to set aside the Electoral Court’s ruling and ensure the election is held in Chimanimani on Thursday.

The ZEC would like the Supreme Court to make a ruling on the issue and in the interim also suspend the Electoral Court’s ruling.

“If the judgement of this Honourable Court is not suspended, it will mean that all preparation for the elections including the preparation of the ballot boxes and the polling stations will be put on hold,” Chiweshe said in his application to the Electoral Court.

“If then the Supreme Court upholds Applicant’s contentions and reserves the decision of this Honourable Court, it will then be too late to attend to the preparations relevant to the elections to enable them to be conducted on the date already set down by proclamation. This will obviously then cause great inconvenience,” the court papers state.

A fortnight ago Justice Uchena of the Electoral Court ruled that the selection of Chimanimani candidates be redone.

Uchena said that the contesting parties who were interested in the Chimanimani seat should lodge their papers on April 4, whilst the actual polling should take place on April 30.

Presently, the Chimanimani legislator Roy Bennett is behind bars for flooring Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa.

ZEC is being represented by George Chikumbirike of Chikumbirike & Associates, whilst Bennett is being represented by Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor & Immerman.

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