THE Supreme Court has reserved judgment in President Robert Mugabe appeal against a High Court decision directing him to gazette a date for by-elections in three constituencies for vacant House of Assembly seats.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku heard the appeal together with Judges Vernanda Ziyambi, Paddington Garwe, Yunus Omerjee and Anne-Mary Gowora.
Advocate Ray Goba of the Civil Division in the Attorney General's Office represented Mugabe while Ndabezinhle Mazibuko represented the three contending former legislators Abdenico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu.
The three, who represented Nkayi South, Bulilima East and Lupane East lost their seats after they expelled by the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube.
They instituted the court action after declaring their interest to contest in the constituencies as independent candidates.
Justice Nicholas Ndou in October last year directed the President to ensure that by-elections were held in the three constituencies notwithstanding the argument that the government was facing financial challenges.
Mugabe argued that there were others besides the three constituencies awaiting by-elections.
He further argued that the High Court wrongly granted a mandatory order when the Act relied on did not make proclamation of the election date peremptory. He further argued that the court should not speculate on availability of funding for by-elections and that any government expenditure should be budgeted for.
Bhebhe, Mguni and Mpofu were elected members of the House of Assembly in the 2008 general election under the MDC ticket but fell out of favour with their party resulting in their expulsion in 2009.
In terms of Section 4(1) (e) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Clerk of Parliament notified the three that their membership had been terminated with effect from July 22 2009.
The Speaker of Parliament notified the President of the development as required by the law on August 17 2009. Mugabe did not make the expected proclamation, prompting the trio to approach the higher court.
Mazibuko submitted that the court gives Mugabe a reasonable period within the prescribed 14 days.
He urged the court to dismiss the appeal on the basis that it is misplaced and that the Electoral Commission or the Minister of Finance comments on the unavailability of funds for elections.