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Mugabe can't call Zimbabwe polls
Mail and Guardian (SA)
May 31, 2013
the MDC are in new talks as legal problems delay President Robert
for elections on June 29.
Mugabe may not get what he wants - to hold the national polls next
month - because of unexpected legal obstacles that stand in his
week signed the new Constitution
into law in a bid to speed up the poll date. But it has now emerged
through party negotiators from Zanu-PF and the two Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) formations that they first need to align
the new charter to the existing legislation.
from the three parties who spoke to the Mail & Guardian this
week confirmed they are in new talks over a number of constitutional
and legal issues, besides political matters, that still need to
be sorted before a date for the elections could be announced.
are now locked in secret meetings to map the way forward, and all
declined to be named owing to agreements among them not to publicise
the details of the talks in the media.
say key among these is the mandatory 30-day voter registration exercise
that will only start next week and end in early July.
They said there
is now also the extraordinary Southern African Development Community
summit (SADC) that will be held at a date not yet known to discuss
the political and security situation in Zimbabwe, as well as the
funding of the polls.
summit on Zimbabwe
general Tomaz Salamão announced this week that SADC would
hold a special summit on Zimbabwe.
Minister Tendai Biti says the country needs $132-million for elections,
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Rita Makarau is demanding
$164-million to organise the polls effectively. Biti confirmed on
Tuesday that the Cabinet had agreed on a consolidated voter registration
plan after the treasury secured $25-million for the process.
say Mugabe is under pressure from Zanu-PF politburo hardliners to
call for elections by June 29, which is when the tenure of the coalition
facilitator for Zimbabwe's political dialogue, South African President
Jacob Zuma, met Mugabe on Sunday during the African Union General
Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss preparations for the
A SADC troika
summit held in South Africa recently demanded that Zimbabwe first
adopt critical reforms, including the controversial security sector
reforms, before the elections take place.
say, in addition to these political issues, there is also a lot
of legal work that needs to be completed before elections.
politicians are talking as if general elections will be held any
day from now, the reality is there are still a lot of issues which
need to be taken care of before poll dates can be announced,"
a senior MDC-T negotiator said.
there is a new Constitution, we are still negotiating amendments
to the Electoral
Act to accommodate proportional representation introduced by
the new Constitution, election of senators to represent people with
disabilities, take into consideration new time limits on proclamation
of election dates and polling day, the transfer of election results
between polling centres and factor in challenges to the validity
of the next presidential election results."
A Zanu-PF negotiator
explained that under the new Constitution 60 senators, 60 members
of the National Assembly and 80 members of provincial councils will
be elected by a system of proportional representation based on the
votes cast for constituency members of the National Assembly.
Electoral Act makes no provision for proportional representation
and will have to be amended extensively to take this into account.
Even thresholds on proportional representation and party lists will
have to be negotiated," he said.
the new senate will have two senators specially elected to represent
persons with disabilities. How they will be elected and even the
definition of persons with disabilities will have to be set out
in the amended Electoral Act," the negotiator said.
Asked for comment,
a senior official of the smaller MDC party involved in the ongoing
negotiations said one provision in the new Constitution alone makes
Mugabe's election date demands impossible.
157(3) of the new Constitution requires nomination day in every
election to be at least 14 days after proclamation of the election
date, and at least 30 days before the polling day," he said.
time limits will have to be incorporated into Section 38 of the
Electoral Act, which will make it impossible to have elections by
the end of next month."
negotiators say the Electoral Act as currently configured is vague
and inconsistent on how and when election results must be transferred
between electoral centres from ward to constituency on a provincial
and national level. This ambiguity, lawmakers say, must be clarified
to remove the inconsistencies.
'There are two
reasons why immediate legislative amendments are needed. The first
is that the next general elections will be held in accordance with
the new Constitution, and the Electoral Act will have to be amended
to align it to the new Constitution before the polls are held,"
an MDC-T negotiator said.
reason is that the provisions of the new Constitution, which come
into operation immediately, will trigger changes to several other
statutes. "For instance, the Urban
Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act must be amended
before the elections to remove the power of the minister of local
government to appoint councilors because under the new Constitution
all councilors will have to be elected. For the same reason, the
ministerial notices laying down the number of councilors in each
council will have to be amended."
said: "Since the registrar general and his officials will be
obliged to apply the new provisions when dealing with applications
for identity cards, voter registration and passports, there should
be less bureaucracy. However, the president will not be able to
issue a proclamation calling the next elections before all these
things are done."
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