Constitutional Court correct – Madhuku
By Farirai Machivenyika
UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe constitutional law lecturer Professor Lovemore Madhuku yesterday again defended the judgement by the Constitutional Court that elections be held by 31 July saying it wasprogressive and meant to prevent lawlessness by ensuring all arms of the State are in place at any given time.
Prof Madhuku was speaking at the Southern African Policy and Economic Series Trust Policy Dialogue last night.
“The major thrust (of the ruling) is that the Constitutional Court was correct. It is a good judgment. It is good for the country and we must all abide by it,” he said.
“The logic of the judgment was that we must have all arms of the State all the time. The seven judges (who concurred with the ruling) are more progressive, their interpretation isn’t based on a word by word basis but the principle. The principle is that you must not have a vacuum.”
He said even countries like the US did not allow the absence of any arm of the State under any circumstance.
He added that some people want to promote lawlessness by criticising the Constitutional Court judgment.
“At some point there has to be a stop and that stop is July 31. Our problem in this country is that there has been a failure to respect laws.
“If we disobey this court the next remedy will be in the streets or the other and that would be dangerous,” Prof Madhuku said. “I would rather we have flawed election than no elections at all.”
Prof Madhuku said there was ample time for Government to implement the necessary provisions required by law before July 31 adding other reforms talked about by the MDC-T could be addressed after the polls.
“We need to separate issues. Who says the executive have to do all these things? Who says this? There is always room for reforms after the elections. This is not the only election we will have,” Prof Madhuku said.
He reiterated that MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai had been contemptuous of the Constitutional Court in his criticism.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said his party was not against holding elections by July 31 but wanted so-called reforms to be implemented before then.
“The MDC-T is not pleading for time but for compliance with this new Constitution. We need these not because we are dreaming but because these are there in the supreme law,” he said.
He said the reforms include media and security sector reforms and conditions to prevent violence.
President Mugabe has since said political violence would not be tolerated in the coming elections.
MDC-99 leader Mr Job Sikhala said it was ironic that the MDC-T was clamouring for more time before elections are held when they denied groups that were opposed to the adoption of the Constitution more time to campaign for a No Vote before the referendum.
The nine-member panel of judges that heard the matter comprised Chief Justice Chidyausiku, Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba and Justices Vernanda Ziyambi, Paddington Garwe, Ann-Mary Gowora, Ben Hlatshwayo, George Chiweshe, Antonia Guvava and Bharat Patel.
Seven judges concurred with the ruling, but there were two dissenting opinions by Justice Malaba and Justice Patel.
The matter had been brought by a Harare man, Mr Jealousy Mawarire, who was seeking an order compelling President Mugabe to proclaim the election date before June 29 when the life of the Seventh Parliament ends.
Meanwhile Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma yesterday said he had written to all legislators that the term of office would come to an end on June 29.
“When they came into office we also wrote their letters of appointment and also modalities of payment and that the terms would end on June 29, 2013. So what I did was to remind of the operations of the law,” he said.
President Mugabe has since said he would abide by the court judgment and would soon liaise with Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa on the dates.