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Constitutional Court to deliver poll date judgment today

by Staff reporter
31 May 2013 at 03:54hrs | Views
THE Constitutional Court will today rule on the appropriate date or period for the holding of harmonised elections, roughly a month before the expiry of the life of the Seventh Parliament on June 29.

The nine-judge panel's ruling, scheduled for 2pm, will end confusion among political parties over the interpretation of the law governing the holding of elections in view of the pending dissolution of Parliament next month.

Parties to the case agree that tenure for members of the House of Assembly and Senate as well as councillors expires June 29, but disagree on the period elections should be held.

The issues were raised in an application by a Harare man Mr Jealousy Mawarire who is seeking an order compelling President to proclaim the election date.

Mr Mawarire also seeks an order compelling President Mugabe to ensure elections are held not later than June 30.

The full bench reserved judgment after hearing arguments from all the parties involved last Friday.

Mr Mawarire's lawyer Mr Joseph Mandizha confirmed receiving communication that judgement would be handed down this afternoon.

Mr Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook, who is appearing for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, also confirmed the development.

President Mugabe's lawyer Mr Terrance Hussein of Hussein, Ranchhod and Company could not be reached for comment along with lawyers representing Professor Welshman.

During the hearing last week, Mr Mandizha argued that the President failed to take the necessary steps required to hold elections by June 29 and that there was a need for the Supreme Court to decide on the way forward in line with the Constitution.

He said failure by the President to proclaim the election date in time had an effect of violating Mr Mawarire's right to expect public officers to uphold the law and abide by it.

The lawyer also argued that extending the election period by four months after the end of Parliament destroys the tenets of democracy and should not be allowed.

He argued that the four month period mentioned under Section 58(1) of the Constitution was a period that should start to be counted before the expiry of Parliament and that June 30 was a more reasonable date to hold elections.

Mr Mandizha said dissolution of Parliament should be immediately followed by elections to avoid a situation where the President will run the country single-handedly.

Mr Hussein said the President could not proclaim the dates earlier because there were some disagreements among political party leaders on the dates and the cases took time before the courts.

He said the four months was too long and untenable.

Advocate Thabani Mpofu, acting on behalf of MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube, argued that Mr Mawarire failed to appreciate that there were two ways of dissolving Parliament ' dissolution by executive powers and automatic dissolution through expiry of Parliament.

The President, he argued, had four months to call elections after June 29 and that there was no breach and no reason for Mr Mawarire to file the court application.

Adv Lewis Uriri, who was instructed by the PM's lawyer, argued that if the President failed to meet the timelines, there was a remedy in another section of the Constitution granting him four months after the dissolution of Parliament and that the application should fall away.

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Source - herald