Patrick Chinamasa: The reluctant litigant

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa

ZANU PF has no intention of shifting the date of the pending elections from July 31, analysts said amid speculation that hardliners in the party are exacting immense pressure on President Robert Mugabe to ignore Sadc’s weekend recommendations.

Report by Njabulo Ncube

Chinamasa on Tuesday filed an ordinary, rather than urgent application at the Constitutional Court purporting to seek an extension for the pending polls as recommended by the Sadc Maputo summit last Saturday.

The following day he returned to the same court pleading that he case must be treated as an urgent matter after his controversial application raised a political storm.

But a perusal of the application, which analysts say might take days, weeks or even months to be heard by the Constitutional Court, exposed Chinamasa’s reluctance in the matter, which Mugabe’s coalition partners want elections moved to a later date to allow implementation of outstanding electoral and legislative reforms.

The analysts cautioned the MDCs and the public from being deceived by Zanu PF’s quick response to appear to adhere to the Sadc directive, saying all signs pointed to a resolve to have polls on July 31 or even before August 14 as suggested by regional leaders.

“During the proceedings at the summit, I was directed to make an urgent application before this court to seek a postponement of the date for the harmonised elections from July 31 to August 14,” Chinamasa said in an application filed on Tuesday.

“I make this application conscious of the fact that this honourable court has made an order and rather than violate it by simply ignoring it as had been suggested by certain political parties cited herein. I seek the indulgence of this honourable court given the directive given to me by the Sadc Extraordinary Summit in Maputo.”

Chinamasa then pointedly urged the court to note that at the summit Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai “the issue of the election is not a legal issue but a political process,” adding that the Concourt should be cognisant of the fact that Zanu PF was not listed as one of the parties whose views were considered by the summit. Jameson Timba, the MDC-T secretary for international affairs, who doubles up as the Minister of State in the PM Office, said Chinamasa unilaterally filed a court application on behalf of the government without consulting the government.

“His affidavit is designed to lose the case,” he said. “We will not accept it.”

A Harare-based lawyer tweeted: “Chinamasa is what you call a reluctant litigant, one who approaches the court with no intention to seek redress”.

Dumisani Nkomo, the chief executive of Habakkuk Trust, a local think-tank, said hardliners were pushing for an early poll hoping for a presidential win with the support of the state security organs.

“But now they (Zanu PF) faces a threat of a united MDC,” he said.

Blessing Vava, political analyst, said Zimbabweans should be alert that Sadc has left it to ConCourt to decide.

“But we all know where their allegiance lies,” he said. “So whatever the outcome of the court ruling, it is purely on the basis of what favours Zanu PF. The two week extension period will not change anything though.

“It is rather Mugabe who wants an early election than his foes, considering his age and health so the sooner the polls are held the better for him.”