Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who stood in for Mugabe, in New York attending the UN general assembly, pleaded with the High Court to move the dates for outstanding by-elections from October 1 to December, 2012.
Chinamasa, a Zanu (PF) deputy secretary, told the Court, in an urgent chamber application filed by the Attorney General’s office on Wednesday, that Mugabe needed more than $200 000 to stage a referendum on a new draft charter, hold by-elections and harmonised general elections planned for March 31 2013.
“I need to inform this Honourable court that if we factor in the holding of by-elections there would be three key events to take place and to be funded by the government within the duration of six months.
“These events are referendum (anticipated to take place during the first week in November 2012, the by-elections (which if a proclamation is done by the 1st of October, 2012 would take place in December 2012) and the harmonised General Elections (by the end of March 2013).
“This makes the six months’ period from 1st October, 2012 heavily congested with important national events. There have been consultations over the financial resources required for holding these three key events. ……If we take into account the costs as at present the funds are not available to hold the by-elections,” reads part of Chinamasa’s founding affidavit.
Mugabe was initially hauled to the High Court by three former MDC legislators Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu in 2010 after their parliamentary membership was terminated following their suspension and subsequent expulsion from the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Bhebhe, Mguni and Mpofu were first represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) member, Ndabezinhle Mazibuko, of Calderwood Bryce Hendrie & Partners Legal Practitioners and later on by ZLHR board member Beatrice Mtetwa, while Mugabe is represented by Advocate Ray Goba, who was instructed by the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s Office.
Mugabe first sought the High Court’s lenience to be allowed to delay the gazetting of dates for by-elections in three Matebeleland constituencies in August citing the need to mobilise and ascertain the availability of financial resources to stage what he termed “a mini-general election” in all the vacant parliamentary and senatorial constituencies in the country including local authorities.
His plea to the High Court was triggered by a Supreme Court order, which in July confirmed the lower court’s order that the 88 year-old leader should call for by-elections in three Matabeleland constituencies by the end of August.
Mugabe had appealed against High Court judge, Justice Nicholas Ndou’s decision in October 2011 ordering him to ensure by-elections for Nkayi South, Bulilima East and Lupane East were held, as they were constitutionally long overdue.