MDC-T in bid to stop by-elections

Mr Mwonzora

Mr Mwonzora

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC yesterday filed a Constitutional Court application seeking to stop the holding of by-elections and any other polls before the alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.In an application filed by Artherstone and Cook law firm late yesterday, MDC-T argues that the conducting of any election without completing the electoral reforms was unconstitutional.

The application comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had conducted the nomination process for the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt Darwin West constituencies to replace Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and former Vice President Joice Mujuru respectively.

By-elections will be held on March 27 in the two constituencies.

On Thursday five candidates were nominated to contest in the by-election for Chirumanzu-Zibagwe while four were nominated for Mt Darwin West  constituency.

In the court application ZEC, its chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, the Registrar-General of Voters Mr Tobaiwa Mudede, President Mugabe, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister and the Attorney-General were listed as respondents.

The political party argues that ZEC, in terms of the new Constitution, is mandated to register voters, compile voters’ rolls and registers, ensure the proper custody and maintenance of voters’ rolls and registers among others, but it has not yet assumed such duties.

“Regrettably, in reality, first respondent (ZEC) has not embarked on the execution of its duties as outlined in the foregoing paragraphs, particularly, in respect of voter registration, and voters’ rolls compilation and maintenance obligations,” reads an affidavit by MDC-T Secretary General Mr Douglas Mwonzora.

Mr Mwonzora argues that failure by ZEC to commence voter registration by January 15, 2015, is a violation of Section 17A of the                                       Constitution.

He argues that the announcement by ZEC on January 24 this year that it was embarking on a voter registration and inspection of voters’ roll does not cure the “fatally defective status” of the current electoral environment.

It is MDC-T’s contention that the ongoing exercise by ZEC was merely a pilot exercise to test the voter registration model that was unveiled to stakeholders in December last year, hence it does not satisfy the requirements of the Constitution.

Mr Mwonzora also contests the involvement of civil servants in the voting process as provided for in the Electoral Act.

“Another violation to the Constitution arises from Section 59 (1) (b) of the Electoral Act which provides for the presence of a police officer on duty for illiterate or physically handicapped voters.

“The forced inclusion of a police officer in the voting process in this instance, is in violation of Section 240 of the Constitution that disqualifies civil servants and employees of State-controlled bodies from being appointed to ZEC duties,” he said.

Section 67 (1) (a) and (b) of the Constitution, which provides for political rights to all will also be violated if the elections are held in the absence of the electoral reforms.

The respondents are yet to file their responses with the Constitutional Court.

At the end of last year Zimbabwe African People’s Union leader Dr Dumiso Dabengwa filed a related court application seeking an order compelling ZEC to immediately take over its electoral duties from ZEC in compliance with the new Constitution.

Dr Dabengwa’s application is still pending at the Electoral Court.