Lawyers for Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, have gone to the High Court demanding that his legal challenge to last year's presidential election be given a court date. The lawyers told the judge that the delay in the trial was a fundamental violation of the constitution.

South African lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett is representing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the losing candidate in last year's presidential election.

He told Judge Ben Hlatshwayo that the High Court decided at a pre-trial conference last December that the election challenge should go ahead as soon as possible.

He said the judge had ruled that the trial should take place in two parts, the first to argue technical matters around the constitution and election laws. The second, should the first challenge fail, would examine facts of the elections, including allegations of intimidation and pre-poll violence.

The lawyer said Mr. Tsvangirai has had to go to court 14 times to get legal rulings on matters surrounding the election challenge, such as access to the voters roll and access to ballot boxes.

Mr. Mugabe's legal team said the opposition leader was challenging the election because he wanted to move into the president's official residence, state house, and he wanted to drive a luxury vehicle.

The lawyer also said there were outstanding legal matters to be settled before the election challenge could proceed without interruption.

Judge Hlatshwayo said he will rule soon, but analysts said it could be several weeks before he makes a decision, and if he agrees to set down a court date, it would not be before September, 19 months after the presidential election.