TSHOLOTSHO legislator Jonathan Moyo and former Harare South lawmaker Margaret Dongo are pressing ahead with their High Court application to set asi
de the date President Robert Mugabe proclaimed for nomination courts to sit for the March 29 elections arguing it was unconstitutional.
Moyo and Dongo, in an application filed with the court on Sunday, argued that Mugabe violated provisions of the constitution when he made the proclamation before the publication of a final delimitation report. Both politicians intend to contest in the polls.
Mugabe on January 24 initially set today as the nomination date and this week moved it to February 15.
The president said he moved the date after Zanu PF and the MDC approached him and asked for more time to allow them to complete selection of candidates.
Moyo and Dongo’s lawyer Chris Mhike yesterday said despite the change in the date of nominations, his clients were going ahead with the court application on the basis that it was done in contravention of the constitution.
“The application is about the legality of the recent proclamation,” Mhike said. “The nomination date was proclaimed before the publication of the final report on boundaries and names of constituencies and wards, which had the effect of reducing the nomination preparation period of would-be candidates.”
Mhike said the constitution required the proclamation of a nomination date 14 days, but less than 21 days, after the publication of the final delimitation report.
He said judging from recent press reports, the postponement of the nominations to next week were prompted by “practical concerns of major political players” without regard to the law.
“My clients argue that primary focus should be on compliance with the law, as the law is designed to protect the interests of citizens and parties other than the major political players,” Mhike said. “We are yet to see the final delimitation report and to us it means that the movement of the nomination date to February 15 is still unconstitutional.”
The lawyer said if the report was to be made public through the Government Gazette today, the ideal date for nominations would be February 22.
Moyo in his affidavit said the setting of the nomination date by Mugabe without the publication of the relevant names and boundaries of constituencies and wards would shorten the period over which candidates may prepare for the nomination.
He said the proclamation by Mugabe was in blatant violation of Section 61A (11) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in that “the final names and boundaries of the wards and the House of Assembly and Senatorial constituencies had not been proclaimed and published in the Government Gazette”.
Moyo added: “This means that 1st respondent (Mugabe) fixed the sitting date for the nomination court and fixed the date of the next general election on the basis of a preliminary report by 2nd respondent (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission), which report has not been made public by the time 1st respondent issued Statutory Instrument 7A of 2008 and was never available to the public.”
The former Information minister further argued that the failure to distribute the report for the benefit of the public, the electorate and aspiring candidates was a serious breach of the law and a subversion of the democratic process.
“Indeed, the failure is the clearest neutral evidence that, despite the 1st respondent’s proclamation fixing the date of the sitting of the nomination court and fixing the date of the general election, the relevant authorities are in fact not ready to hold the general election and to ensure its freeness and fairness purely from an administrative and logistical point of view,” Moyo added.
Dongo agreed in her affidavit with Moyo’s assertion.
The High Court is expected to hear the application before Monday.