By Nomalanga Moyo
13 March 2013
The Supreme Court has thrown out an appeal by the National Constitutional Assembly seeking to have the referendum date extended by at least two months.
The NCA took their case to the superior court after the High Court dismissed their application seeking to delay the constitutional referendum scheduled for Saturday.
The constitutional lobby group was arguing that the referendum date, announced by President Mugabe on February 15th, was too soon for citizens to study and understand the draft constitution.
High Court judge Justice George Chiweshe, who infamously set aside results of the 2008 presidential election, had ruled against the NCA on the grounds that the president’s decision could not be reviewed by the courts.
In a two-part judgement the Supreme Court Wednesday agreed with the NCA challenge, and ruled that the president can be questioned by citizens in the courts.
But Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku dismissed part of the NCA appeal in which the group was asking for the postponement of the referendum from March 16th to a later date.
Justice Chidyausiku and five other judges unanimously agreed that the time set out by the president was adequate.
A spokesman for the group said they did not agree with the ruling and believed that “the four weeks given was not enough”.
In a statement, the NCA said the group was dismayed by this ruling but remained “unshaken”.
“We are working flat out in the remaining two days to mobilise as many Zimbabweans as possible to come out in their numbers and vote no in the referendum,” the NCA said in a statement released soon after the ruling.
Speaking to SW Radio Africa, NCA spokesman Madock Chivasa said he was confident that the majority of Zimbabweans will reject the draft on Saturday.
Chivasa said: “There is no way Zimbabweans would accept a constitution they have not even seen. However, the NCA will accept the decision should the majority vote yes for the draft charter on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, the NCA announced that one of its activists had been arrested for sticking up ‘Take Charge’ posters in Harare’s Machipisa Shopping Centre.
Prince Masukusa was reportedly arrested on Monday and was still being detained at Machipisa Police Station on Wednesday.
The NCA said it condemned the continued harassment of its “members as we approach the referendum, which casts doubt over the credibility of the referendum.
“We note that the police are acting in a partisan manner as they are not subjecting those campaigning for the yes vote to such harassment,” read the statement.