Zimbabwe's highest court has said that crucial elections would go ahead on July 31 despite appeals to delay the poll.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, head of the Constitutional Court, said on Thursday the court unanimously ruled against delaying the vote.

"Elections should proceed on the 31st of July 2013 in terms of the proclamation by the president in compliance with the order of this court," Chidyausiku said.

Chidyausiku said detailed reasons for the decision will be released later.

The court dismissed appeals by both President Robert Mugabe and his Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to have the date postponed for different reasons.

Mugabe had lodged an application to shift by two weeks the date that he had himself set, after regional bloc the Southern African Development Community (SADC) asked him to allow more time for preparations.

Tsvangirai, who has accused Mugabe and his allies of failing to implement promised reforms ahead of the vote, had wanted an even longer extension to allow time for the overhauls, and lodged a separate petition.

But "after perusing the papers, and hearing counsel in this matter, the court unanimously concludes that the applications should be and are hereby dismissed," said Chidyausiku.

Regional mediators had urged President Mugabe to put off polls until August 14 to allow for more democratic reforms and changes to electoral laws. 

The regional leaders made their appeal to postpone elections at a special summit on Zimbabwe on June 15.

The presidential vote will now be held on the same day as parliamentary elections and will choose a government to replace an uneasy power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai in place since 2009.

Source: Agencies