High Court ruling litmus test

Electoral watchdogs have described the recent High Court ruling on by-elections in Lupane East, Nkayi South and Bulilima East as a litmus test on whether the executive will respect the courts.

Nine senatorial and14 parliamentary seats are vacant. Ousted MPs for the three constituencies, Njabuliso Mguni, Abdenico Bhebhe and Norman Mpofu respectively, are hopeful.

Matshobana Ncube of Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners, who represented the legislators, says they are waiting for a certified copy in order to hand the court ruling to the President.

Legal experts say the 14 days given for the President’s Office to respond will start to count the day this is done. But the Attorney’s General has already accused its Chief Law Officer, Fortune Chimbaru, of having erred by filing counter-arguments and wants the ruling to be reserved.

As the legal battle rages on, the government says it does not have money to hold by-elections. Seven of the 14 vacant constituencies did not receive the $50,000 Constitutional Development Funds given to sitting MPs.

The Parliamentary Monitoring Trust Zimbabwe said the ruling was long overdue and should be honoured.

“What we have seen since 2008 has been a wanton disregard of the supreme law of the country,” it said in a statement.

“Politicians seem to think that the constitution-making process is important and have been complementing donor funds. But the same government has been very lethargic when it comes to by-elections, arguing that there is no money. We should be prepared to pay the price of a democracy.”

Zimbabwe Election Support Network is also concerned about the moratorium on by-elections.

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