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Leaders race to fix poll dispute

GOVERNMENT principals and party political leaders are sweating over attempts to disentangle the nation from the knotty electoral processes web and clean the mess left by President Robert Mugabe’s unconstitutional actions in proclaiming a disputed election date and amending the law by decree as part of efforts to map the way forward in the aftermath of last weekend’s crucial Maputo Sadc summit.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu

Throughout the week, Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube have been battling to crack the conundrum of how to vary the Constitutional Court (Concourt) order directing that elections be held by July 31 and reverse the president’s illegal amendments to the Electoral Act.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Mutambara and Ncube are meeting again today in order to resolve whether to file another Concourt application to replace the one lodged by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa on Tuesday after complaints, from the two MDC coalition government partners with Zanu PF, that it was badly drafted.

The principals will also need to find a way of dealing with Mugabe’s arbitrary changes to the electoral law by emergency powers to allow parliament to do that after they came out deadlocked on the issue on Wednesday.

This comes as Sadc diplomatic sources said yesterday regional leaders are pushing to ensure the volatile situation is resolved to avoid Zimbabwe plunging into a new crisis triggered by disputed elections.

As a result, Sadc-appointed facilitator on the Zimbabwe situation, South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team is expected in the country any time from now to check on progress after the Maputo resolutions which demanded a review of the Concourt ruling and reversal of Mugabe’s electoral amendments.

Yesterday the Concourt ruled Chinamasa’s contested application seeking a two-week extension to its order for polls by July 31 to allow elections to be held at least by August 14 as advised by the Sadc summit.

Tsvangirai’s lawyer Chris Mhike confirmed the court ruled that the matter was urgent and a full Concourt bench will hear the case next week.
“The matter has been referred to a full bench and would be heard sometime next week,” said Mhike. “The exact date and time of the hearing would be announced by the registrar of the Supreme Court in due course.”

Mhike said there were no arguments as to the urgency of the matter although Tsvangirai expressed grave concerns to the court about the manner in which Chinamasa unilaterally brought the application before it when he knew it should have been done by consensus from the inclusive government.

The principals’ meetings on Wednesday and today after cabinet deliberations on Tuesday came hot on the heels of the Sadc summit’s recommendations last weekend that directed them to return to the Concourt to seek more time to implement reforms before holding polls.

“(The Sadc) summit acknowledged the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe on the elections date and agreed on the need for the government of Zimbabwe to engage the Constitutional Court to seek more time beyond July 31 2013 deadline for holding the harmonised elections,” Sadc’s Maputo communiqué said.

The Concourt is currently flooded with election-related applications following its controversial judgment on the Jealousy Mawarire case that resulted in the July 31 poll date.

However, time is running out for the July 31 elections deadline as proclaimed by Mugabe last week. Zanu PF is also racing against time as it prepares to hold primaries on Monday ahead of the sitting of the Nomination Court on June 28, which is deemed illegal by the MDC parties and their lawyers.

Zanu PF’s politburo met on Wednesday to finalise primary elections candidates’ list, although the central committee failed to meet as expected yesterday to deal with the issue.

Tsvangirai and Ncube met leaders of the other political parties outside the coalition government on Tuesday to brief them and their constituencies about Sadc’s Maputo summit outcome.

The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) also met on Monday to deal with election-related issues in a week dominated by elections discussions in private and public spheres.

Sadc also recommended that three Sadc representatives should join Jomic immediately and attend all its meetings as part of their task to monitor implementation of agreed reforms as Zimbabwe moves towards elections, among other issues including media and security reforms.

The country remains on the brink as coalition partners continue to haggle over reforms and processes leading to general elections ahead of the expiry of parliament’s five-year term next weekend.

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