Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Top Zimbabwe court refuses to delay July 31 election

The delay was requested in order to allow more time for reform of the security forces and state media.

Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution this year in a trouble-free referendum backed by both long-serving President Robert Mugabe and his main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

However, the haste with which an election date was set has increased fears of a repeat of the violence and bloodshed that marred a 2008 vote and forced Mugabe and Tsvangirai to form a unity government.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku did not immediately give reasons for the court's unanimous rejection of the requests, lodged after the regional South African Development Community (SADC) said a delay was needed to lay the ground for a credible vote.

"For the avoidance of doubt, elections should proceed on the 31st of July in terms of the proclamation by the President of Zimbabwe in compliance with the order of this court," Chidyausiku said.

Tsvangirai would abide by the decision even though his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had been pushing hard for a delay of at least two weeks, his spokesperson said.

"Since the court has ruled, it means we have to go by that date," Tsvangirai spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said.

Tsvangirai, who claims that Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has cheated him in two other polls since 2000, has been pressing for access to state media for all political parties and cast-iron guarantees that security forces will not meddle in politics.

Mugabe (89) launches his election campaign on Friday in a bid to extend his 33 years in power despite worries over his health and age.

Tsvangirai (61) is set to launch his on Sunday.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader, has denied reports he suffers from prostate cancer or other major health problems.

He says he has cataracts, and returned home from Singapore on Sunday from what his spokesperson called a routine visit to an eye specialist.

He has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, and his opponents say he cannot win a fair election after ruining one of the continent's most promising economies with policies such as the seizure of white-owned farms for blacks. – Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Environmental groups welcome China’s pledge on coal

Will China’s end of coal finance be the final nail in the coffin for MMESZ?

More top stories

Environmentalists are trying to save South Africa’s obscure endangered species

Scientists are digging for De Winton’s golden moles, working on the mystery of the riverine rabbit and using mesh mattresses to save the unique Knysna seahorse

Shadow states infest Africa’s democracies

Two recent reports show evidence that democracy in Africa is being threatened by private power networks

The West owes Africa $100bn (at least) for climate recovery

In fewer than three days, a US citizen emits as much carbon as a person from Chad or Niger does in one year. Such is the asymmetry in culpability for climate change.

Environmental groups welcome China’s pledge on coal

Will China’s end of coal finance be the final nail in the coffin for MMESZ?

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…