High court hears pro-democracy campaigner’s challenge of abuse of presidential powers to amend electoral act

HIGH Court Judge Justice David Mangota will on Thursday 08 March 2018 preside over an application filed by pro-democracy campaigner Mfundo Mlilo challenging the powers of former President Robert Mugabe in gazetting subsidiary legislation to gazette Statutory Instrument (SI) 117/2017, to amend the Electoral Act.

Justice Mangota will hear the matter at 10: AM in chambers.

Mlilo, through his lawyer Tendai Biti, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, petitioned the
High Court last year after Mugabe, on September 15 2017, published a Government Gazette
Extraordinary Volume XCV Number 61, under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
Amendment of the Electoral Act Regulations as SI117/2017.

In the application, Mlilo argued that the use of Presidential Powers to amend the Constitution and
override the role of Parliament willy-nilly was illegal and in breach of the Constitution.
The former President, Mlilo argued, did not have the power to override Parliament through a
parliamentary amendment or the making of a law that overrides the existing law.

The pro-democracy campaigner wants the High Court to declare the purported making of a law, which
is the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Amendment of Electoral Act) Regulations, as null
and void and of no force and effect.

In the alternative, Mlilo wants the High Court to declare; “That Section 2 (2) of the (Temporary
Measures) Act (Chapter 10:20) is null and void and of no force and effect to the extent that it permits
the making of a Statutory Instrument that amends the Acts of Parliament.”

Mlilo argued that even if it could be said that Parliament could delegate power, a point in respect of
which he strenuously denied, the aspect of lawmaking could never have been delegated.

The human rights activist charged that while Section 134 of the Constitution allows statutory
instruments to be made, the intention was never to allow that delegated legislation could have the effect of altering an Act of Parliament.

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