MDC election challenge ruling deferred

Zimbabwe’s High Court this week concluded hearing a landmark opposition challenge to President Robert Mugabe’s victory in last year’s presidential election.

It was not immediately clear when Judge Ben Hlatshwayo would make his ruling in the case brought by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), but legal sources said it could take weeks, even months.

The judge said he needed time to digest the ”complicated submissions” and come to a conclusion in the matter. His ruling will determine whether there will be an election rerun or further legal action allowing evidence to be heard on the alleged electoral irregularities.

This week’s poll petition comes against a background of political and social strife and economic crisis in the Southern African nation ruled by Mugabe since he helped oust Ian Smith’s white minority government 23 years ago.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who brought the petition before the court, wants a rerun of the March 2002 poll, which was largely condemned by Western observer groups as marred by violence and vote-rigging.

But some African observer groups declared that the election had been free and fair.

In his response to the MDC petition, Mugabe’s lawyer Terence Hussein dismissed it, saying it lacked facts and was cluttered with too many other issues.

”It is inconceivable that the election of the president, the commander-in-chief [of the army] should be set side because three lawyers came before you and made legal arguments. That will be a monumental legal disaster,” said Hussein.

”The Electoral Act clearly envisages that the validity of an election to the office of president may only be determined at a trial,” he said.

Mugabe (79) clinched a fifth consecutive term in office when it was declared that he got 56,2% of the votes, against 41,9% for his opponent.

Tsvangirai’s lawyers argued that the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) had scuttled chances of a free and fair election because its members were appointed by Mugabe.

The opposition’s legal team further argued that the ESC was not ”validly constituted” because it had four instead of the five members stipulated by the law.

Tsvangirai mounted his challenge last year, just as crisis talks between his party and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF were starting.

The move angered the ruling party, which promptly pulled out of the talks aimed at resolving the problems created by the disputed elections.

Efforts have been made to get the two parties to resume dialogue, but Mugabe says he will not talk to the MDC unless it accepts him as the legitimate head of state. — Sapa-AFP

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Susan Njanji
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Explainer: Why it is difficult to mine in South Africa

The Fraser Institute's annual survey of mining companies is not entirely wrong, South Africa is a difficult place to mine, say analysts

Afrofuturism meets Wabi-Sabi at Design Joburg

Architects, fashion designers and tastemakers descend on Johannesburg’s premium design event

Asiatic black bear cubs saved from illegal wildlife trade in...

Two bear cubs, weighing only 2.4kg and 3.3kg, were rescued from a man intending to sell them on the illicit wildlife market

How the ANC wants to re-evaluate cadre deployment during policy...

The party's decision to relook at the deployment process could result in a broadening of the pool of candidates for positions.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×