Charles Nyatanga, master of the high court and effectively the chief legal administrator, said his office had "received 105 petitions, which have to be determined within six months in terms of the Electoral Act".

 

Electoral upset

 

Lawyers handling the petitions have been invited for a meeting with judges on Friday.

 

"All the lawyers who are dealing with election petitions [are invited] to attend the meeting where the procedure would be discussed," he said.

 

The legislative election on March 29 saw Zanu-PF lose its majority in parliament for the first time since the former British colony's independence 28 years ago, with the MDC taking 109 seats against 97 for Mugabe's party.

 

A partial recount was held last month after the results in 23 constituencies were challenged, but the initial outcome was confirmed in each seat.

 

Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC leader, also beat Mugabe in a simultaneous presidential election, but fell short of an overall majority needed to avoid a second round.

 

The country's electoral agency is yet to announce the date for a second round of the presidential elections which Tsvangirai is threatening to boycott.

 

Increasing violence

 

However, later on Wednesday the head of a South African contingent of regional election observers said a presidential election run-off in Zimbabwe cannot take place given the current levels of violence.

 

"We have seen it, there are people in hospital who said they have been tortured, you have seen pictures, you have seen pictures of houses that have been destroyed and so on," Kingsley Mamabolo told reporters.

 

"You cannot have the next round taking place in this atmosphere; it will not be helpful, it will create a whole lot of problems."

 

Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, has sent an eight person team to Zimbabwe to investigate claims of violence that have been levelled by both Zanu-PF and the MDC.

 

The team will report to Mbeki who is the chief mediator on Zimbabwe for the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC).