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Zimbabwe High Court Delays Opposition Party Request

By Peta Thornycroft
07 April 2008

The Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, must now wait until at least Tuesday to hear the outcome of its High Court appeal to force election officials to release results of the presidential election held nine days ago. Delia Robertson in Johannesburg has this report from Peta Thornycroft in Harare.

Judge Tendai Uchena has ruled that he can hear a petition by the Zimbabwe's opposition party demanding the immediate release of the recent election results. He dismissed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) argument that his court did not have jurisdiction and set the case for Tuesday.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he defeated President Robert Mugabe in the presidential election. No results have yet emerged from the 29 March presidential race.

Lawyers for the MDC say that in their view, the Zimbabwe Election Commission is deliberately delaying the results on instructions from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

As Zimbabweans wait for the outcome, several top ZANU-PF officials, including administration secretary Didymus Mutasa, are using the state media to call for a recount in the March 29 state and local elections.

Some have even called for a recount of the presidential poll before the result is announced. There is no provision in Zimbabwe's Electoral Law, for a recount of the presidential vote.

The tallies in the polls for parliament and the senate were released last week. In both houses, ZANU-PF narrowly lost its majority.

Meanwhile the Commercial Farmers Union, CFU, says it is now trying to assist dozens of white commercial farmers who are being violently threatened or forced off their land around the country.

Political observers believe this resurgence in farm invasions is directly linked to what they say are Mr. Mugabe's electoral losses at the poll.

The CFU said the remaining few hundred white farmers were bracing for eviction. Several have already fled with their families to Harare.

Only a few hundred white farmers remain after the eviction of four thousand, which began in 2000 when Mr. Mugabe lost a referendum on constitutional amendments, his first political defeat since coming to power in 1980.

Farmers are still harvesting crops at a time of the most serious shortage of the staple food, corn, in Zimbabwe's history.

Didymus Mutasa, who is also Lands and Security Minister, did not take calls Monday and calls to the Lands Ministry in Harare went unanswered.

When contacted by telephone, police in Harare said they had no information about the farm invasions.

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