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Mugabe can’t call early election – group

20/07/2017 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
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AN early election call by President Robert Mugabe could be unconstitutional, legislative watchdog Veritas has warned.

Zimbabwe is due to hold fresh elections next year with the 93-year-old Mugabe seeking another five-year-term in office.

Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo recently claimed that Mugabe has the power to call an early vote with the possibility of one between next February and March.

Mugabe is already on the campaign trail after addressing rallies in Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Masvingo with another one scheduled for Matabeleland North tomorrow.

Veritas discusses the possibility of an early vote in its latest bulletin dated July 18.

“Polling days must fall within the 30-day period 23rd July 2018 to 21st August 2018,” the group said.

“Depending on the polling day selected, the President’s proclamation ordering the elections must be gazetted within the period Monday 30th April 2018 to Monday 9th July 2018.”

Zimbabwe last held a general election on July 31, 2013 that was won by Mugabe and his Zanu PF party with the opposition crying foul, claiming various irregularities and ballot stuffing.

However, despite Chombo’s claims, Veritas categorically states: “The President cannot choose ‘any date in 2018”

“It follows that Veritas strongly disagrees with statements recently published in newspapers claiming that the President has a ‘prerogative’ to choose any date in 2018 for the elections and for gazetting his proclamation.

“The President no longer has the discretion he previously enjoyed to force an early election on the country by dissolving Parliament.

“That may have been the case under the former Constitution, but it is clearly not possible under the present Constitution.”

Veritas added that only Parliament may force an early election.

“By either (i) refusing to pass an annual Appropriation Bill [i.e. Budget] or (ii) passing resolutions in both Senate and National Assembly to dissolve Parliament, for which two-thirds majorities are required or (iii) passing a vote of no confidence in the Government,” said the bulletin.

The group said Mugabe has to follow what is known as an election timetable that should include three key events ahead of the poll - proclamation of date of elections, nomination date and the sitting of the nomination court and polling date.


“From the proclamation date to nomination date there must be at least 14 days and no more than 21 days. From the sitting of the nomination courts ‘nomination date’] to polling day there must be at least 30 days and no more than 63 days.

“The President has plenty of leeway when deciding on the electoral timetable, as long as he complies with these time parameters.”

According to the watchdog, the earliest and latest dates, Mugabe can set for the upcoming general elections are around, “proclamation (Monday 30 April 2018-Sunday 8th July 2018), nomination day (Monday 21 May 2018-Sunday 22nd July 2018) and polling day (Monday 23 July 2018-Tuesday 21st August 2018)”.

The group also considered whether the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) would be ready for the poll.

“ZEC has given an assurance that the country-wide Biometric Voter Registration [BVR] exercise will be completed by the end of this year or just into January next year,” reads the report. 

“They have said they will then take eight weeks to complete the cleaning up, de-duplication, compilation and printing of the voters’ roll.

“And then they have allowed four weeks for the printed roll to be inspected.  This means that ZEC could, but only just, conduct elections based on the very earliest proclamation date.”

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