By Alex Bell
15 March 2013
Supreme Court Judge Rita Makarau was on Friday sworn in to her new position as the head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), in a move that overturned a court application seeking to have the referendum postponed.
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) on Thursday filed a court challenge against the appointment of Joyce Kazembe as the acting ZEC chair, saying she is unqualified for the position. The NCA said that Kazembe’s ‘unconstitutional’ position threatened the credibility of the referendum that until Friday she was set to oversee.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announced this week that Makarau would only be sworn in after the referendum. But this plan was moved forward after the NCA filed its challenge on Thursday.
Makarau was sworn in by Robert Mugabe on Friday at State House, along with the new Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, Jacob Mudenda. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the swearing in of Makarau overturned the NCA’s challenge.
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the challenge along with a separate one filed at the same time by the International Socialist Organization (ISO). The group argued in court papers that there was not enough time before the referendum for their ‘no’ vote campaign.
Activist Raymond Majongwe was in court on Friday and he explained that the application, along with the NCA one, was dismissed on a “technical basis.”
“The Court based its decision on issues of urgency and said they we were quiet until this week and so the case was not urgent,” Majongwe told SW Radio Africa.
He added that it was “obvious” that Makarau’s swearing in was a direct reaction to the NCA challenge filed on Thursday.
“At the 13th hour they brought her and swore her in, even after the Prime Minister said this would only happen after the referendum. We are dealing with people who want this process (the referendum) to go ahead no matter what and the swearing in is part of that,” Majongwe said.