Elections will go ahead as scheduled, most likely in August, after the Constitutional Court dismissed an application by MDC-T’s Douglas Mwonzora to invalidate the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s demarcation of boundaries.
Mwonzora had argued that ZEC had broken the law during the delimitation process. He wanted the court to declare the delimitation invalid, order ZEC to redo the process, and force President Emmerson Mnangagwa to only proclaim an election date after a new delimitation report. Had Mwonzora had his way, the election would have had to be postponed. This is because there must be six months between delimitation and the election.
Dismissing Mwonzora’s application on Monday, Justice Luke Malaba said the court cannot stop a constitutional process. The court also said Mwonzora was not properly before the court, querying why the MDC-T leader had not submitted sworn affidavits from potential candidates who would have been prejudiced by the delimitation. As a presidential candidate, Malaba argued, Mwonzora is not hurt by constituency boundaries.
Outside court, Mwonzora told reporters: “Their (judges’) argument is that they do not have jurisdiction, in other words, that they don’t have the power to hear the case. In our respective view, the court has made a political judgment.”
ZEC’s demarcation of boundaries was criticised by both sides of the aisle when it came before Parliament. MPs from ZANU PF and the opposition, CCC and MDC-T, said the electoral commission had made grave errors in the report, including using wrong formulas to distribute voters among the 210 constituencies. However, the CCC and ZANU PF chose not to go to court, leaving only Mwonzora to do so.
What does the ruling mean?
The path is now clear for the President to proclaim an election date, which he is expected to do by the end of this month. The poll must be held between July 26 and August 26, to comply with Constitutional regulations that the election must come not more than 30 days after the expiry period of the current Parliament. No date has been proclaimed yet because a proclamation can only be made 44-88 days before the election date under the current laws.
In Parliament, MPs are to pass an Electoral Amendment Bill before elections are proclaimed. The Bill would provide for the election of 10 youths to the National Assembly and continue the election of 60 women to the National Assembly under a party-list system. The Bill will also bar people convicted of certain crimes from standing for office.