ConCourt challenge puts polls in peril

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ZIMBABWE’S general elections could be postponed after an opposition leader was allowed to challenge a delimitation report produced by the commission that runs polls at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

The southern African nation expects to hold elections by end of August this year, at the end of the five-year cycle for the 2018 polls.

However, MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora and his party went to court seeking an order to compel President Emmerson Mnangagwa not to proclaim poll dates because of the controversy surrounding the delimitation report which was produced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

Seven of Zec’s nine commissioners distanced themselves from the report, which Mnangagwa gazetted on February 21 this year.

The court ruled that Mwonzora’s case had merit, and will be heard by a full ConCourt bench of seven judges.

He was given three days to file his challenge.

Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said Mwonzora’s application had serious implications on the proclamation of election dates.

“People must not pretend that everything is OK, especially the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec),” Madhuku said.

“The court will decide whether or not the delimitation report can be used in the upcoming elections. But prospects of the courts nullifying it are very high.

“There are very serious implications on when this year’s elections are going to be held, if the applicant wins the case. Remember, the delimitation report was challenged by everyone.”

He added: “If the court rules that we use the old boundaries or that Zec re-does the delimitation, either way, the elections are going to be delayed.

“Zec will require more time to do a fresh delimitation, and also even if were are to go back to the old boundaries, there is still need for more time to restore them, but also putting into consideration that the old boundaries are as bad as the current boundaries that came out of the delimitation.”

Madhuku said the Zec commissioners should resign if the ConCourt rules in favour of Mwonzora.

“The civil society, Parliament, electoral watchdogs and even the President himself pointed out flaws within the delimitation report, but Zec ignored them. So, if the ConCourt rules in favour of Mwonzora, then it would have proved Zec’s incompetency and the commissioners would have no option, but to resign.”

Yesterday, Zanu PF said it would accept any outcome of the Mwonzora challenge.

“We are ready for the elections anytime. Any season is an election season for us,” Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said.

“Whatever the Constitution or the courts says on the issue of elections, we agree with it. We are continuing with our various mobilisation and economic programmes that we are implementing in communities.”

Citizens Coalition for Change spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said postponing elections would be unconstitutional.

“The constitutional requirement that elections be held every five years cannot be suspended by political elites who have no support from the citizens and are afraid of electoral loss,” Mahere said.

“Zanu PF and its proxies are terrified of how much support they have lost and so are seeking to use whatever hare-brained plan they can think of to try and stop the process.”

Election Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said: “Any postponement of elections in Zimbabwe would have a devastating effect on our democracy. The Constitution is clear that where the delimitation process is not completed or deemed unconstitutional, the Commission must revert to old boundaries.”

Project Vote 263 chairperson Alan Chipoyi said the country could still use old boundaries and abide by the constitutional requirement of holding elections every five years. _*NewsDay*_

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