By Nomalanga Moyo
28 February 2013
The High Court has dismissed a lawsuit by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), which was seeking to delay the start of the constitutional referendum.
Judge President Chiweshe ruled that the court cannot question the President, and threw out the application without even considering its merits and de-merits, NCA spokeman Blessing Vava said.
In his judgement, Justice Chiweshe says President Mugabe is adequately empowered by the Referendums Act to announce the dates as he did.
Part of the ruling reads: “That being the case, I conclude that the content of the first respondent [President], in setting the date of the referendum and the time within which voters may cast their vote, is not subject to review by a court.’’
It is just over two weeks to the 16th March, when Zimbabweans will have 12 hours to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the new charter for the country.
That process will ultimately decide if and when a general election can be called.
The NCA has said it does not accept the court judgement, and will appeal to the Supreme Court.
In a statement, the group said: “The NCA is dismayed and disgusted at this wanton abuse of the courts by the Judge President, himself infamous for presiding over the ZEC which in 2008 withheld election results for a record 5 weeks.
“The Judge President did not even seek to hear the merits or demerits of the NCA case, choosing instead to protect the president, a public servant from scrutiny from members of the public on his actions which affect the same public.”
The NCA had hoped to have the referendum date moved to at least two months later, saying there is not enough time for Zimbabweans to analyse, question and debate the contents of the draft.
Vava told SW Radio Africa that the NCA will be vigorously campaigning for a ‘No’ vote for the referendum.