The European Union Election Observer Mission (EUEOM) has called on Zimbabwe to establish reasonable time limits for the courts to determine election-related petitions. The EU EOM made the recommendation after noting that it appears that there was a systematic delay by the High Court in either setting down dates for hearing or delivering judgements on election-related matters. In its final report on the July 30 harmonised elections, the EU EOM said,
Some 55 applications were filed to the courts, dating back several months before the proclamation of the elections and up to election day. Despite some claims that they were frivolous and politically-motivated, it should be stressed that ZEC was vulnerable to legal challenges not only because some provisions of the Electoral Act are not fully in line with the letter and the spirit of the Constitution.
…Despite some exceptions, it appears there was a systematic delay by the High Court in either setting down dates for hearing or delivering judgments in a timely manner – despite the Chief Justice’s directive that all election-related matters should be treated as urgent. In contrario, the Electoral Court made significant efforts to adjudicate all matters pending before election day in a timely manner.
The report goes on to say,
Recommendation 21: Establish reasonable and appropriate time limits in the legal framework for the proceedings, hearing and determination of pre-election applications filed at the High andthe Electoral Courts, in order for matters to be completed and court decisions rendered well in advance of election day.