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Fresh storm brews over Zimbabwe polls

by Staff reporter
15 Mar 2023 at 06:50hrs | Views
A FRESH storm is brewing over this year's general elections after opposition MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora and his party yesterday dragged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the High Court to stop proclamation of election dates because of the controversy surrounding the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)'s delimitation report.

Mwonzora is seeking a High Court determination to have the matter referred to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

Mnangagwa gazetted the much-criitcised delimitation report on February 20 and elections are expected to be held by August 26.

In an urgent chamber application to have the case heard at the ConCourt, the MDC-T leader said the delimitation report should be declared null and void for failing to satisfy constitutional requirements.

"... we seek a declaratur declaring the delimitation report prepared by first respondent (Zec) and gazetted by second respondent (Mnangagwa) on February 20 null and void for not being in accordance with provisions of section 161 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," Mwonzora submitted.

He cited Zec, Mnangagwa, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Attorney-General's Office as the respondents.

Section 161(11) of the Constitution lays down procedures for delimitation and what the President should do after receiving the final delimitation report from Zec.

The section says wards and constituencies should so far as possible have equal numbers of voters by using a correct formula during delimitation.

Zec has been accused of using a wrong formula to calculate voter variations, resulting in some constituencies having more than 20 000 voters while others have less.

"Applicant also seeks an order for consequential relief in the form of a mandamus (a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty) directing the first respondent to conduct a fresh exercise of delimitation in compliance with the dictates and requirements of section 161 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, and in particular to base the report on a final population census report," Mwonzora said.

"Applicants further seek consequential relief directing second respondent not to proclaim elections before the first respondent has prepared a delimitation report that is in compliance with section 161 of the constitution of Zimbabwe."

Mnangagwa last week hinted that general elections would be held in August, but Mwonzora argues that the country cannot have a free and fair election with a contested delimitation report.

"The constitutional matter that this application seeks is whether the first respondent's delimitation report and the gazetting of it done by the second respondent meet the constitutional test in terms of whether they comply with the requirements of section 161 of the Constitution," he said.

"Once it is held not to have been complied with the constitutional requirement, the other mater is whether if the delimitation report is invalid, and election that depends on it can be held and if an election is held, it will meet the standard of freeness and fairness and universal adult suffrage and equality of votes contemplated in section 155."

The delimitation report has been trashed by election watchdogs, opposition parties, data analysts as well as some shadowy Zanu-PF groupings as bogus.

They accuse Zec of gerrymandering and using a wrong formula to redraw electoral boundaries.

Source - Newsday Zimbabwe
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