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2005 poll date set
Walter Muchinguri, The Herald
February 02, 2005

THE 2005 general elections — the sixth such polls to be held in Zimbabwe after independence in 1980 — will be held on Thursday March 31, President Mugabe announced yesterday.

In a proclamation published in an Extraordinary Government Gazette, President Mugabe said he will dissolve the current Parliament on March 30.

He set February 4 (this Friday) as the date on which the voters’ roll shall be regarded as closed for the purpose of accepting voters who may vote in the election.

Nomination courts will sit on February 18 to receive names of those intending to contest in the polls.

The nomination courts will sit in Harare at Mashonganyika Building; at Tredgold Building in Bulawayo; and at the magistrates’ courts in Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Bindura, Marondera, Chinhoyi and Gwanda.

The election of the 10 chiefs to Parliament would be done by electoral colleges which will sit on April 8 in Harare, Mutare, Marondera, Chinhoyi, Masvingo, Ntabazinduna, Gwanda and Gweru.

The electoral college in Harare would be constituted by the Council of Chiefs, while electoral colleges in Mutare, Bindura, Marondera, Chinhoyi, Masvingo, Ntabazinduna, Gwanda and Gweru would be constituted by the provincial assembly of chiefs.

President Mugabe also fixed February 1 as the date on which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Act and the Electoral Act would come into operation.

The two pieces of legislation were passed by Parliament towards the end of last year and were assented to by the President.

They ensured that Zimbabwe complies with the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) principles and guidelines governing elections in the region.

The guidelines were adopted by Sadc leaders at their summit in Mauritius last year.

The ZEC Act and the Electoral Act were approved by Parliament after the ruling Zanu-PF and opposition MDC agreed on a number of amendments.

The Electoral Act allows for the establishment of an Electoral Court to deal with disputes arising from an election.

The ZEC Act, on the other hand, allows for the establishment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission — an independent body to run elections — after consultations with the Judicial Services Commission and recommendations by a parliamentary committee made up of all political parties represented in Parliament.

President Mugabe has since appointed members of the commission with High Court judge Justice George Mutandwa Chiweshe as chairman.

Other members are Mrs Sarah Letty Kachingwe, who would deputise Justice Chiweshe, Mrs Vivian Stella Ncube, Professor George Payne Kahari and Reverend Jonathan Siyachitema.

Several parties are represented at the highest level in the parliamentary committee with Zanu-PF having Vice Presidents Msika and Mujuru, national chairman Cde John Nkomo and the Leader of the House, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, among others.

The MDC is represented in the committee by the leader of the opposition in Parliament, Mr Gibson Sibanda, and secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube, among others, while Zanu (Ndonga) is represented by its president Mr Wilson Kumbula.

The other three nominees in the committee — which met on January 4 to make the nominations — had selected Bulawayo lawyer Mr Samuel Mlauzi, Mrs Constance Manika and Mrs Teresa Mugadza.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is responsible for preparing and conducting the elections for the Office of the President and to Parliament, local authorities and conducting referendums.

The commission would direct and control the registration of voters by the authority charged with the registration of voters, ensure the proper custody and maintenance of the voters’ roll and registers as well as conduct voter education.

President Mugabe also appointed Harare lawyer Mr Theophilus Pharaoh Gambe as the new chairperson of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) to replace Mr Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, who was recently appointed Attorney-General.

The announcement of the polling date comes a few weeks after the Delimitation Commission had finished its task of demarcating constituencies.

The exercise resulted in Harare, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South losing one constituency each, while Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West provinces gained one each.

The announcement is also a wake-up call to all those intending to participate in the election to intensify their campaigns.

Zanu-PF has already completed its selection process of candidates who would represent it in all the constituencies and has set Saturday as the day for the official launching of its campaign.

Other parties are, however, still engaged in the selection process while the MDC has not come out clear on whether it would participate in the election, having threatened to boycott them last year.

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