Polls date hearing set for Thursday

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PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s counter application seeking to nullify the proclamation by President Robert Mugabe setting July 31 as the date for the general elections has now been considered the main one which the Constitutional Court (Concourt) is set to deliberate on next Thursday.

Report by Charles Laiton/Paidamoyo Muzulu

Tsvangirai filed the counter application on Monday against Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa’s initial one, seeking an election date extension by two weeks to August 14.

All the political parties entangled in the election date impasse yesterday agreed to have the matter dealt with and be resolved to pave way for the forthcoming general elections.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, however, ordered all the parties to file their papers by 12pm on Tuesday next week before a pre-hearing meeting at 2pm the same day.

The Concourt has been bogged down by election-related petitions further complicating the electoral process.

Chidyausiku and eight other Concourt judges have been seized with electoral petitions since May 31 when the court ruled that the 2013 general elections be held by July 31 after former journalist Jealousy Mawarire had filed an application arguing that the continued non-proclamation of a poll date by Mugabe infringed on his rights as a voter.

The court upheld Mawarire’s application triggering an avalanche of cases seeking an enforcement of suffrage rights.

On Wednesday the court heard six election-related cases, which included the issue of dual citizenship, political party funding and matters surrounding people of alien origin who are now allowed to participate in the electoral process.

Yesterday, lawyers representing Mugabe, Tsvangirai, MDC leader Welshman Ncube, Chinamasa and Mawarire came up with the consent position after a pre-hearing meeting in Chidyausiku’s chambers.

Mugabe’s lawyer Advocate Terence Hussein said it was accepted during the meeting that Tsvangirai’s counter application to the one filed by Chinamasa last week would now stand as the main application while all other parties would come in as respondents.

“All the parties agreed that the matters would be consolidated and be heard as one application on July 4 this year,” Hussein said. “The matters include one for Tsvangirai, Chinamasa, Nixon Nyikadzino and Maria Phiri. The president will file his papers as a respondent as well.”

Chinamasa’s lawyer, Advocate Fred Gijima, confirmed the developments and said Tsvangirai’s matter had been agreed on to stand as the main application given that he was the only respondent to have raised different issues in challenging Chinamasa’s application.

However, Mawarire’s lawyer, Advocate Joseph Mandizha said: “The main concern in this whole saga is the late filing of these counter applications which is creating a situation where the rule of law continues to be violated. Persons could have acted much earlier when the presidential proclamation was gazetted on June 13 yet they chose not to do so,” Mandizha said.

Tsvangirai and Nyikadzino are represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri while Ncube is represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu.

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