Supreme Court dismisses MDC challenge

Lucia Makamure/Constantine Chimakure


THE Supreme Court yesterday dismissed an MDC constitutional application seeking to repeal sections of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Act that, among other thin

gs, mandates President Robert Mugabe to appoint the commission’s chairperson.


The challenge was dismissed with costs by the full bench of the Supreme Court made up of Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and Justices Luke Malaba, Misheck Cheda, Elizabeth Gwaunza and Paddington Garwe, after hearing initial arguments of the case.


However, the judges did not give reasons for the dismissal of the application, saying these would be made available in due course.


Advocate Happius Zhou, instructed by Obert Gutu of Gutu & Chikowero, represented the MDC, while Nelson Mutsonziwa appeared for the Attorney-General’s Office.


The court challenge was heard despite the fact that on Tuesday the two formations of the MDC and government agreed on Constitutional Amendment No18 Bill which, among other things, dealt with electoral issues.


Zhou said the agreed constitutional amendments had no bearing on the court challenge.


“The amendments are not going to have any bearing on the provisions we wanted struck off of the ZEC Act,” said Zhou.


In the Supreme Court application, the MDC argued that Section 3(1) (a) of the Zimbabwe Electoral Act contravenes Section 61(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in that the statutory law limits the appointment of the chairperson of the commission to a person qualified to be appointed as a judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court.


“Given that the chairman is appointed by the president who, under the current set up is the president and secretary of the ruling Zanu PF party, the Section as appears in the Act leaves room for the president to appoint a party activist from his party merely because that person might be qualified to be appointed as a judge having regard to his educational qualifications and experience after being admitted as a legal practitioner,” the application read.


The MDC wanted Section 15 of the ZEC Act repealed, arguing that it breached provisions of the Zimbabwe Constitution, in particular Section 20 which protects freedom of expression. Section 15, the MDC argued, makes it mandatory for organisations or individuals involved in voter education to furnish the commission with a programme for approval by the same commission.