JUSTICE Chinembiri Bhunu on Wednesday reserved judgment on the preliminary points whether the High Court had jurisdiction to hear a presidential poll petition under the new constitution when he heard MDC-T’s application seeking Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to release election material used in the July 31 plebiscite.
President Robert Mugabe’s lawyer Advocate Fred Gijima told reporters of Bhunu’s decision to reserve judgment soon after the court had finished hearing arguments the MDC-T application that has a large bearing on the another application by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the Constitutional Court seeking the nullification of the presidential poll result.
Gijima said: “Most advertently is the preliminary point that the electoral court had no jurisdiction to hear any application, dispute or matter that is related to the petition of an election of a president and that was argued extensively.”
Tsvangirai’s lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri concurred that only the ConCourt could hear a presidential poll petition but the High Court has the exclusive domain to order the inspection of election materials.
“It is clear that the petition is urgent as the petition for challenging the presidential election is set down for hearing in the constitutional court on Saturday the 17th, we need access to election material to demonstrate that the will of the people is not reflected in that election and they should be a reason why they do not want us to have provisions of the documents,” said Uriri.
Another respondent to the case, Zanu PF through its lawyer Advocate Farai Mutangamira argued that the matter was not urgent because the MDC-T had taken more than five days to bring the matter to court.
“Tsvangirai’s application was not urgent on the basis that results of the presidential election were announced on the 3rd of August and earlier on the applicant had already issued a statement that they want to go to court, having received results on the 3rd of August, the applicant waited for 5 days and filed on the 8th of August,” Mutangamira said.
The matter is now expected to move to the ConCourt where a determination on the presidential poll petition should be made within two weeks after the announcement of the results.