Sep 24, 2017 Last Updated 10:33 AM, Sep 22, 2017
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The Zimbabwean High Court on Monday deferred to Thursday the hearing of an urgent chamber application by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T, where the main opposition political party is seeking an order to suspend the new registration of voters, saying the country’s elections management body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), is “ill-prepared” to conduct the exercise.

The opposition party on September 13, through their lawyers Rudo Magundani and Evans Moyo of Scanlen and Holderness, filed the urgent chamber application challenging President Robert Mugabe’s proclamation which he made on September 8, arguing that Zec was not prepared for the beginning of new registration of voters.

They said the electoral body did not have both sufficient equipment and trained personnel to commence the registration exercise.

High Court judge Justice Davison Foroma deferred the case to Thursday after Mugabe’s representatives indicated they needed time to study and respond to the opposition party’s sit-down application.

Mugabe proclaimed September 14, 2017, as the date upon which new voter registrations would begin and January 15, 2018, as the last date upon which claims and applications for registration shall be received in all wards and constituencies.

Magundani and Moyo argued that notwithstanding Mugabe’s proclamation, there was a risk of disenfranchisement of voters because of the “premature” proclamation and the period prescribed in Mugabe’s proclamation was “inadequate” to complete the voter registration exercise and capture all the biometric voter registration data.

The MDC-T also protested against the “lack of clarity on procurement of and custody of servers, involvement of security personnel, inadequate information on location of polling stations and voter registration”.

The woman who has accused Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe of assaulting her has mounted a legal challenge against the South African government for giving her diplomatic immunity.

Gabriella Engels said in court papers that a head of state, let alone a first lady, failed to qualify for immunity when accused of a serious crime.

Mrs Mugabe left South Africa on Sunday.

She has not commented on Ms Engels' allegation that she "beat the hell out of me" in a Johannesburg hotel.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) investigated the alleged assault, which took place on 13 August.

But they failed to charge the first lady after President Robert Mugabe's government claimed diplomatic immunity on her behalf.

South Africa's International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said she had "agonised" about granting Mrs Mugabe immunity.

She agreed to the request after taking into account "legal considerations" and the need to main "inter-governmental relations" with Zimbabwe, Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said.

In papers filed in the High Court in the capital, Pretoria, Ms Engels, a 20-year-old model, said the minster "misconstrued her powers" and her decision should be declared invalid as it "lacks legality", South Africa's privately owned Times Live news site reports.

Heads of state who killed or injured people in South Africa did not qualify for immunity under the Foreign States Immunities Act and there was therefore no way that their spouses qualified for it, Ms Engels was quoted as saying.

Lobby group AfriForum, which is representing Ms Engels, said that if the court challenge was successful, Mrs Mugabe, 52, risked prosecution if she ever returned to South Africa.

Ms Nkoana-Mashabane has not yet commented on the court challenge.

No date has been set for a hearing.

Hosts Zimbabwe have been drawn alongside old rivals Zambia in the first round of the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship as the draw on Wednesday threw up some mouth-watering clashes.

Madagascar and Malawi will join Zimbabwe and Zambia in Group A in what is sure to be a tightly-contested pool.

East African guest nation Kenya head up Group B, where they will face Mauritius, Mozambique and Swaziland in another pool that will be tough to predict.   Three-time winners South Africa are in Group C along with neighbours Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana.

The competition will be played across two venues in Bulawayo, the Barbourfields Stadium and Luveve Stadium, and will get underway on September 13.   The opening match will see Namibia take on Botswana (kick-off 10h30), before two clashes in Group A as Zambia take on Malawi (14h00) and Zimbabwe clash with Madagascar (16h30).

All of the matches in Group A will take place at Barbourfields Stadium, while all Group B games will be at Luveve Stadium. The matches in Group C will be evenly split between the two venues.

The teams play each other in a round-robin format with the pool winners and best-placed runner-up advancing to the semifinals, which will be played on September 21. The final will be played three days later on September 24, with the bronze-medal game played the day before.

With 12 teams competing this year, it is the biggest ever field assembled for the COSAFA Women’s Championship and shows the tremendous growth in women’s football in the last decade.

Zimbabwe will be the defending championships having won the last tournament played on home soil in 2011, while South Africa claimed victory in the three tournaments before that played in 2002, 2006 and 2008.

2017 COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP POOL STAGE FIXTURES

September 13 (Barbourfields Stadium)
10h30              Namibia vs Botswana
14h00              Zambia vs Malawi
16h30              Zimbabwe vs Madagascar
September 14 (Luveve Stadium)
10h30              Mauritius vs Swaziland
14h00              Kenya vs Mozambique
16h30              South Africa vs Lesotho

September 15 (Barbourfields Stadium)
10h30              Madagascar vs Malawi
14h00              South Africa vs Namibia
16h30              Zimbabwe vs Zambia

September 16 (Luveve Stadium)
10h30              Kenya vs Mauritius
14h00              Lesotho vs Botswana
16h30              Mozambique vs Swaziland

September 17 (Barbourfields Stadium)
10h30              Zambia vs Madagascar
14h00              Zimbabwe vs Malawi
16h30              South Africa vs Botswana

September 18 (Luveve Stadium)
10h30              Namibia vs Lesotho
14h00              Mauritius vs Mozambique
16h30              Kenya vs Swaziland

South Africa has granted diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe, allowing her to leave the country without answering questions about an assault allegation.

President Robert Mugabe and his wife arrived back in Harare early on Sunday.

Mrs Mugabe, 52, is accused of assaulting model Gabriella Engels a week ago at a Johannesburg hotel where her sons were staying.

She has not commented publicly on the case.

A lawyer for Ms Engels told the BBC that they were planning to challenge the immunity decision in court.

Willie Spies said he would argue that the first lady should not have been given special treatment as she had been in South Africa on private business.

The South African government's decision came in a notice from International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, published in the Government Gazette on Sunday.

"I hereby recognise the immunities and privileges of the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr Grace Mugabe," she said.

On Saturday, Mrs Mugabe had been due to take part in the first ladies' programme at the Southern African Development Community heads of state summit in Pretoria, which Mr Mugabe, 93, was attending.

However, she failed to show up.

South African police had said they wanted to interview Mrs Mugabe and had set up a "red alert" at the borders to try to ensure she did not leave the country.

But Zimbabwe's ZBC state broadcaster reported that President Mugabe and his wife "arrived on board an Air Zimbabwe flight early on Sunday morning".

It showed pictures of her greeting officials at Harare airport.

Ms Engels' lawyers have said their client was offered money to drop the case but she refused.

She appeared at a press conference on Thursday with a large plaster on her forehead. She has alleged that Mrs Mugabe beat her with an extension cable at the hotel where the model was staying with Mrs Mugabe's two sons.

She told the BBC: "She hit me with the plug and the extension cord. And I just remember being curled down on the floor with blood rushing down my face and down my neck."

The South African Broadcasting Corporation said the Mugabes were scheduled to attend a funeral for a state minister at Harare's Heroes Acre on Sunday.

South African police have issued a "red alert" at the country's borders for Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe, the police minister has said.

She is accused of hitting a 20-year-old woman over the head with an extension cord in a hotel room near Johannesburg.

Police expected Mrs Mugabe, 52, to turn herself in on Tuesday, but she failed to show up.

The first lady's whereabouts are not known but she is believed to still be in South Africa.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is now also in the country ahead of a southern African heads of state meeting due to start on Friday.

Mrs Mugabe has not commented on the allegation.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said: "We, in terms of South African police, [have] already put tabs on the borders in relation to her leaving the country, so there is no question about that.

"So tabs have been put, a red alert has been put, so she is not somebody who has been running away."

On Wednesday, South Africa's police ministry said Zimbabwe's government had sought diplomatic immunity for Mrs Mugabe.

Meanwhile, South African lawyer Gerrie Nel, who successfully prosecuted Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, is supporting the woman making the allegation, Gabriella Engels.

Mr Nel is now working with the Afriforum group, which mainly lobbies for the rights of Afrikaners in South Africa.

Afriforum said if the police failed to act in the case then it would take up a private prosecution.

It also said that it would fight any move to grant Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

Ms Engels told the BBC that she was attacked by Mrs Mugabe who believed she knew the whereabouts of her son, Bellarmine.

"We kept telling her 'we do not know where he is... we haven't seen him for the night'... She cornered me… and started beating the hell out of me.

"That's when she hit me with the plug and the extension cord. And I just remember being curled down on the floor with blood rushing down my face and down my neck.

"She hit us with so much hate."

Ms Engels has now laid an assault charge and added that she wants Grace Mugabe to "go to jail".

 

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