Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
MDC-T had its case challenging the constitutionality of holding elections before electoral reforms removed from the roll yesterday to allow the opposition party to cite other interested parties to the application.
The constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, noted that the issues being raised in the MDC-T’s application affected certain people who are not part to the proceedings.
Zanu-PF candidates won in the constituencies where by-elections have been conducted this year and they have a substantial interest in the application.
This brings to the fore the need for MDC-T to cite them as respondents in terms of the law.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku indicated that there was a high chance that a joinder would be necessary in the present case. After the court made its observations on the matter, MDC-T lawyer Advocate Eric Matinenga, moved for the case to be removed from the roll.
“After consideration of circumstances of this case, we have agreed the best course following recommendations by the Chief Justice is to have the matter removed from the roll,” said Adv Matinenga.
The court agreed and the Chief Justice ruled: “The matter be withdrawn from the roll and applicant to pay today’s wasted costs.”
Earlier on Chief Justice Chidyausiku sought clarity on whether the MDC-T participated in the elections and “If not what is the implication on the party’s legal standing in the matter”.
It boycotted the by-elections arguing that the playing field was not even and insisted on electoral reforms before elections were held.
The MDC-T filed its application in January this year. It argues that the conducting of any election without completing the alignment of laws with the supreme law of the country was unconstitutional.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, its chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, the Registrar-General of Voters Mr Tobaiwa Mudede, President Mugabe, Justice Minister and the Attorney-General were listed as respondents.
The 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.
In the application, the party also contests the involvement of civil servants in the voting process as provided for in the Electoral Act.
It is being argued that 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.
Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya, is opposing the application saying all the complaints raised by the opposition party were trivial and have since been addressed in the General Laws Amendment Bill, which is now at an advanced stage.
He stated that the inconsistencies raised by the MDC-T were petty and did not warrant nullification of any election already held or barring any poll that may be conducted in future.
Adv Machaya said there was no need for judicial intervention as the process of aligning the electoral law with the Constitution was already underway.
He further argued that the current legal framework permits elections to be held while alignment of the electoral law is being addressed.
The alignment of the laws with the Constitution. Adv Machaya argued was a mammoth task that could not be completed overnight.
The by-elections were held after the opposition party recalled 21 MPs that were linked to a rival group led by Tendai Biti.