Tsvangirai says court has no power to set election date


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Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai today said the Constitutional Court had overstepped its mandate and had no power whatsoever to set an election date.

He was responding to a ruling released today that Zimbabwe’s elections should be held before 31 July. The ruling was in connection with a case brought to court by Jealousy Mawarire who wanted President Robert Mugabe to hold the elections by 29 June, when the life if the current parliament expires.

In a statement released by his party, Tsvangirai said: “Whilst I have great respect for the courts and the judiciary system, today’s ruling by the Supreme Court setting an election date is evidence that the court has far overstepped its mandate.

“The Supreme Court has no power whatsoever to set an election date. In the true spirit of independence and the separation of powers, an election date remains a political process in which the executive has a role to play.

“There is clear evidence that there are some within the executive who wish to circumvent the consultative role in the GPA and the share responsibility enshrined therein to pronounce an election date under the cloak of judicial authority.

“An election date is the responsibility of the executive, which has not shown that it has failed to announce such a date. SADC and the people of Zimbabwe know that an election date is a result of political pronouncements in which the judiciary has no role to play.

“The Principals have a consultative mechanism that would ensure that a date is proclaimed following an agreement by all parties. This is what SADC, the AU and the people of Zimbabwe expect, not a date set up under the cover of the judiciary without a mechanism to ensure to that issues of the election environment and reforms are addressed.

“Zimbabweans expect implementation of reforms and an intensive voter registration exercise that would not have anyone unnecessarily disenfranchised.

“The only positive news from the ruling is that it has quashed the circus of an election date by June 29. This ruling only vindicates some of us that June 29 was a legal and political non-starter. It, however, still remains difficult to appreciate the practicality of an election by July 31.

“The Constitution is clear that the term of Parliament expires on June 29 but section 63 (4) is clear that the executive can continue for a maximum of 4 months, which means an election has to be held by 30 October 2013.

“One arm of government, in this case the Judiciary, cannot make a decision which should ordinarily lie in the other arm of the State: i.e the executive.”

 

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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