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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

No money for polls: Mugabe



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President Robert Mugabe says Zimbabwe is not ready and does not have money to hold by-elections in all the constituencies left vacant as a result of MPs’ deaths and/or dismissal from their political parties.
The country has 38 unrepresented constituencies and each seat requires a staggering $1 million, which Mugabe said the government did not have.
He blamed Treasury’s empty coffers on sanctions imposed on him and the Zanu PF inner circle by the West.
Ironically, Mugabe and Zanu PF are pushing for general elections this year while MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC argue that polls can only take place after Sadc- recommended reforms have been implemented.
Representing the President at the Supreme Court yesterday, Advocate Ray Goba said High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou, who ordered Mugabe to publish in the Government Gazette an order for the holding of the by-elections, misdirected himself when he failed to consider Mugabe’s affidavit.
“In his affidavit, he said everyone was fully aware of the economic situation prevailing in Zimbabwe since 2008 and that because of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country, the government did not have any money,” Goba said on behalf of Mugabe.
“For this reason, it is not possible to hold by-elections and as soon as funds permit they shall be held.”
Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, who deposed the affidavit on behalf of Mugabe, said the government was too broke to afford the $38 291 919,80 needed for the by-elections.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku asked Mugabe’s lawyer if the cash problem was not self-created when the President failed to gazette and call for by-elections each time a constituency fell vacant, to which he replied:
“The funds have to be budgeted for and cannot just be plucked from the air but have to be sourced.”
Chidyausiku further queried: “Don’t you think it was self-created because when the first vacancy occurred the law was not complied with and the costs went up to a level where it became impossible, one by-election would not have cost $38 million?”
The respondents’ lawyer Ndabezinhle Mazibuko, however, argued that gazetting and calling for by-elections did not require any funds at all.
Mazibuko also argued that Mugabe and Chinamasa were not qualified to tell the court on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s financial position.
“Let Zec come and tell the court that they have no funds to hold elections, not the President. Chinamasa cannot speak on behalf of Zec and the Minister of Finance (Tendai Biti) either, Justice Ndou was correct when he made that order,” Mazibuko said.
The appeal was heard by  justices  Chidyausiku, Vernanda Ziyambi, Paddington Garwe, Anne-Mary Gowora and Yunus Omerjee.
The three respondents — former MDC MPs Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu — were represented by Mazibuko.
The three were fired as MPs for Nkayi South, Lupane East and Bulilima East by the Welshman Ncube-led MDC on accusations of siding with Tsvangirai’s MDC-T.
The matter was presided over by Justice Ndou last year who ordered that a nomination court should receive names of prospective candidates in the constituencies without delay.
Justice Ndou’s ruling came after the MPs petitioned the court to direct Zec, its chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi and Mugabe to facilitate the by-elections, saying the delay was unnecessary.
But Justice Ndou dismissed the case against Zec and its chief elections officer and upheld the case against Mugabe who he said was vested with the power to call for elections by the Constitution.
Biti recently disclosed that the government had set aside $100 million for national elections scheduled for later this year.
The funds, he said, were part of the $500 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation which Zimbabwe received from the International Monetary Fund to mitigate the effects of the global financial crisis in 2009.
“The SDR was a mere $500 million. The only money that is left is $100 million, which we cannot use because we do not know what will happen if the political leaders say they want an election,” Biti told  State media.

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