Mugabe Has Tendered Credible Reasons To Justify Elections Dilemma-Judge

In a full judgment made available on Wednesday, Justice Chiweshe reasoned that President Mugabe had adequately explained his election dilemma when he sought an extension of time to March next year to gazette dates for three vacant by-elections in three constituencies which were held by former MDC legislators Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu before their membership was terminated following their suspension and subsequent expulsion from the MDC party.

Lawyers representing the three legislators had to petition Chiweshe to compel him to furnish them with the reasons for his order which was granted at the beginning of the month.

Chiweshe ended Mugabe’s misery over fixing election dates in the three constituencies after allowing him to set the dates by the end of March next year.

The High Court Judge, who led the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that presided over the violent and controversial harmonised elections and the discredited June 2008 presidential re-run election, granted Mugabe six months to comply with a Supreme Court order compelling him to declare dates for by-elections in Nkayi South, Bulilima East and Lupane East.

In the six-page full judgment, Chiweshe ruled that Mugabe had tendered credible reasons in court that justify his request for more time to mobilise financial and material resources.

“In the circumstances I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the applicant’s explanation and his reason for seeking an extension of time within which he is required to execute the order of this court. He has offered a reasonable explanation for the indulgence he seeks and, by approaching this court timeously, he has demonstrated his wish to abide by the court’s order but for the constraints he alludes to,” Chiweshe said in a judgment seen by Radio VOP.

Chiweshe said Mugabe had acted rationally by approaching the High Court to let the nation aware of the hurdles in his way and seeking directions on how best to proceed.

Mugabe in September petitioned the High Court in a bid to evade contempt of court charges by begging for an extension of time allowing him to call for elections by March 31, 2013 rather than October 1, 2012 as dictated by the Supreme Court recently.

In his urgent chamber application, Mugabe justified the extension as necessary to allow his government to raise financial resources needed to stage a referendum on a new draft governance charter, hold by-elections and harmonised general elections planned for March 31 2013.

Mugabe’s elections dilemma was brought upon him by Bhebhe, Mguni and Mpofu, who in 2010 took him to court demanding the staging of by-elections after their parliamentary membership was terminated following their suspension and subsequent expulsion from the MDC party.

Mugabe’s bid for an extension was the second one inside one month after he first obtained a reprieve in the High Court late last month when Justice Chiweshe granted a consent order extending the period within which he should fix by-elections dates to October 1, 2012.