Expelled MPs take Mugabe, ZEC to court

THREE expelled MDC-M MPs have taken President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to court for delaying calling for by-elections in vacant constituencies.

Abdenico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu were kicked out of parliament in August last year after being dismissed from their party for aligning with a rival formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. They now want the High Court to force Mugabe and ZEC to call for the by-elections. Bhebhe has indicated that he wants to stand as an independent candidate should a by-election be called.

The MPs have cited ZEC chairman, Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe as the first respondent, ZEC as the second respondent and Mugabe as the third respondent in papers filed on Monday.

“It appears the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents are not interested in ensuring that the vacancy is filled. It appears that the 3rd respondent (Mugabe), despite being informed that a vacancy has arisen in the membership of parliament in the House of Assembly seat in  Nkayi South Constituency, has not acted in accordance with the provisions of Section 39 (1) as read with subsection  (2)(a) of the Electoral Act (chapter 2:13),” reads the MPs’ court application.

Bhebhe was Nkayi South MP before the expulsion, while Mguni was MP for Lupane East and Mpofu represented Bulilima East.

In their application through Phulu and Ncube legal practitioners, the MPs said: “It is quite an anathema to democracy and quite unconscionable that in a representative democracy, a constituency can remain unrepresented in parliament for more than a year,” the MPs charged.

“As the 2nd respondent appears to be in no hurry to call for an election in the said constituency, I think in all fairness and in consonance with the dictates of democratic practices, I seek the intervention of the court to compel the 1st respondent to comply with the provisions of Section 39 and call for a by-election” reads the application.

The respondents had 10 days since Monday to oppose the application. The MPs say Mugabe should have ordered elections 14 days after being notified of a vacancy by parliament.

Coalition government partners—Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M — have agreed to an arrangement that puts a moratorium on by-elections in a bid to save their shaky administration from collapsing under the weight of electoral contests.

Apart from Nkayi South, Lupane East and Bulilima East, close to 20 seats in the House of Assembly and the Senate have fallen vacant following a series of deaths since 2008.

Nqobile Bhebhe

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