Court Decision Threat To Unity Deal

 

THE Supreme Court will on January 22 decide the fate of the all-inclusive government deal between the country’s three main political parties after the leader of the minority Zimbabwe People’s Party (ZPP), Justin Chiota, sought the nullification of last March’s presidential poll.

 

Chiota’s application came after the Supreme Court ruled on August 1 2008 that his disqualification by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) from contesting the presidential election was illegal.

The ZEC had barred Chiota and the president of the United People’s Party, Daniel Shumba, from the election for allegedly filing their nomination papers out of time.

In a notice of hearing, the Supreme Court said Chiota’s application will be determined on January 22.

Chiota, an advocate and businessman, wants the court to declare null and void the March election and order a fresh poll within 90 days; and also to bar and interdict President Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the two MDC formations, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, from proceeding with talks to constitute an inclusive government.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara signed a unity deal on September 15 2008.
The deal is yet to be consummated with Zanu PF and the MDC-T still haggling on how to share power equitably.

ZEC chairman George Chiweshe, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and independent presidential candidates in the March poll, Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana, were cited as respondents in Chiota’s application.

Chiota wants an order declaring that “the holding of the election for the office of the President of Zimbabwe on the 29th March 2008 is null and void and is hereby set aside”.

The draft order being sought by Chiota says: “It is declared that the subsequent announcement of the results of the said election, the holding of the run-off on the 27th June 2008, the declaration of the 2nd respondent (Mugabe) as the winner thereof and his subsequent swearing in and assumption of office is null and void and is hereby set aside.”

The ZPP president wants the court to declare equally void the holding of talks between the three main parties to constitute a new government based on the results of the March and June elections.

“The 2nd, 3rd, and 6th (Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara) respondents be and hereby (are) barred and interdicted from proceeding with the ongoing talks meant to constitute a government for the Republic of Zimbabwe,” reads the draft order Chiota is seeking.

Lawyers said Chiota was in good stead to win the case given that the Supreme Court ruled last year
that he should have contested the presidential election.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said the refusal to accept Shumba and Chiota’s nomination papers by the ZEC was unlawful in terms of the country’s election law.

Chief Justice Chidyausiku said in terms of Section 46 (7) of the Electoral Act a candidate who is within the nomination court at close of business was entitled to have his nomination papers accepted by the court and no one was arguing that they were not in the court.

Shumba and Chiota argued that the refusal by the Nomination Court to accept their papers violated their rights to freedom of expression and association, which are protected by the country’s supreme law.
But the ZEC sought to dismiss the constitutional case by the two leaders as frivolous and vexatious saying it was improperly before the court.

BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE

Constantine Chimakure