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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Zimbabwe's election ruling: A constitutional conundrum
    Alan Wallis, Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
    June 12, 2013

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    On 22 May 2013 President Robert Mugabe assented to Zimbabwe’s New Constitution, signing it into law. The new Constitution brought Zimbabwe’s much anticipated general elections one step closer, paving the way for preparations to be made. However, just a week later, and catching many off guard, the final step was quickly taken by the new Constitutional Court when it, in its first judgment, ordered President Robert Mugabe’s government to hold Zimbabwe’s elections by 31 July 2013.

    President Mugabe, who has coincidentally been pushing for early elections, did not oppose the case and announced that he will abide by the decision. Conveniently invoking his adherence to the rule of law, he has found himself with no choice but to comply with the judgment. Prime Minister and MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, believes that the Court over stepped its mandate and that it cannot dictate when the election is to be held, and he is looking for ways to challenge the decision, even hinting at boycotting the elections if they are held before 31 July 2013.

    In the wake of the judgment a number questions are on everybody’s minds:

    • Is Zimbabwe financially and logistically ready to hold free and fair elections in less than two months?
    • Will the mandated constitutional safeguards and reforms be in place in time to ensure that the elections are free, fair and constitutionally compliant?
    • Is the legal reasoning of the majority or the minority correct?

    But are these the right questions? Perhaps the question that needs answering is whether the Constitutional Court used the right Constitution.

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