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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Countdown to elections - Bill Watch 30/2013
    July 18, 2013

    Elections Countdown

    There are 13 days to go to polling day on Wednesday 31st July

    31st July a Public Holiday

    Polling day, 31st July, is a public holiday [Electoral Act, section 38(2): “... polling day shall be deemed to be a public holiday for the purposes of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act”]. In addition, employers must allow employees who are at work on polling day to have the morning or afternoon off “to afford them an opportunity to vote in the election”, without deducting pay [Electoral Act, section 92].

    Tuesday 9th July – special mobile voter registration exercise concluded

    9th July was the 30th and last day of the special and intensive voter mobile registration and voters roll inspection exercise mounted in accordance with paragraph 6(3) of the Sixth Schedule to the new Constitution. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] directed the mobile registration and inspection centres to remain open until midnight, to deal with those still queuing at the usual closing time of 7 pm. There has been widespread criticism that the exercise was inadequate and left many would-be voters still unregistered.

    Wednesday 10th July – last day to register for the elections at ordinary registration centres

    Would-be voters who did not take advantage of the mobile registration exercise could still register for the coming elections until close of business on the 10th July, but only at the permanent registration offices operated by the Registrar-General’s Office around the country. Anyone registering after that will not be on the rolls to be used in polling stations on 31st July – section 26A of the Electoral Act, as amended by SI 85/2013, provides for the closure of voters rolls twelve days after the nomination day [which was 28th June].

    Comment: The queues at mobile centres, particularly in urban areas, were so long that the mobile exercise did not come near catering for all those wanting to register – in spite of the officials being told to deal with everyone queuing before shutting the office. And the exercise was not women-friendly, as most women have to get back home some time to see to their children. In many wards the three-day [or sometimes shorter] visit by the mobile team was not long enough to cope with the demand. It is no wonder that there have been calls for the registration exercise to be extended, but an amendment to the section 26A of the Electoral Act would be needed to allow people registered after 10th July to vote in these elections – and it is pointless to think of amending section 26A now, because section 157(5) of the new Constitution, which is already in force, provides that “After an election has been called, no change to the Electoral Law or to any other law relating to elections has effect for the purpose of that election.”

    Difficulty former aliens had in getting registered as voters

    People formerly regarded as aliens, but now classified as citizens under the new Constitution and therefore wishing to register as voters, experienced special difficulty during the registration exercise. Despite claims by political parties that all those previously classified as “aliens” had to do was swap their old IDs for new ones, to register as voters they were first required to establish their claim to citizenship – and for many this proved too difficult in practice. Those able to prove by their citizenship by production of their “long” [full, detailed] birth certificates and proof of residence could exchange their “alien” IDs for new “citizen” ID papers, and there were special queues for them. These queues were particularly long and slow-moving, and many were not able to get their new ID papers and register as voters at the mobile centres. Voter education was also sadly lacking, so many did not have the necessary documentation and found themselves referred to distant district offices or to the even more distant central registry in Harare, and did not have either the time or the means to pursue their claims further. There were also reports – some of which came by phone call to Veritas – that even people who did have the correct documents were being referred to Harare. It is difficult for Veritas to estimate how many would-be voters simply abandoned their quest, frustrated by uncooperative officials and the slow pace at which applicants were processed, but from press and observer reports it was considerable and many of the potential new voters under the new Constitution did not get registered

    Lists of Parliamentary and Provincial Council candidates gazetted

    Two Government Gazettes Extraordinary dated 5th July contained notices gazetted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] following the nomination court sittings on 28th June, listing:

    • Presidential election candidates [GN 361/2013***]
    • National Assembly constituency candidates [GN 362/2013***] All 210 seats will be contested. [This GN includes party list details for National Assembly, Senate and Provincial Councils; this turned out to be a ZEC error, and the party lists were subsequently gazetted separately in GN 364/2013.]
    • Party list candidates [First Schedule – Senate; Second Schedule – National Assembly; Third Schedule – Provincial Councils] [GN 364/2013***]

    Note: The list of National Assembly constituency candidates has already been affected by candidates withdrawing [11 constituencies affected] and by successful appeals to the Electoral Court by candidates whose nominations had been rejected by nomination courts [3 constituencies affected]. [See below]

    Withdrawal of candidates

    There have been no withdrawals from the Presidential election contest.

    Withdrawals, mostly by Independent candidates, have however resulted in changes to the gazetted lists of candidates for 11 National Assembly constituency seats [GN 366/2013*** dated 12th July]. The constituencies affected [with names of the withdrawn candidates in brackets] are

    • Headlands [C.P. Chingosho, Ind]
    • Nkayi South [L. Dube, Ind]
    • Gweru Urban [P. Mabukwa, Ind]
    • Mutare North [M. Madiro, Ind]
    • Shamva North [A. Matibiri, MDC]
    • Chimanimani West [N. Matsikenyere, Ind]
    • Marondera West [R. Mavunga, Ind]
    • Bulawayo East [R. Muhlwa, ZAPU]
    • Chikomba Central [R, Mujuru, Ind]
    • Insiza South [N. Ntandokayiphikiswa, MDC-T]
    • Bikita South [S. Uyoyo, Ind].

    Nomination Appeals to Electoral Court

    The Electoral Act requires appeals against nomination court decisions to be lodged within four days and dealt with swiftly in judges’ chambers. There is no further appeal [Electoral Act, section 45E(13)(c)]. Electoral Court judges are High Court judges appointed by the Chief Justice to double as Electoral Court judges.

    Nomination court decisions on 28th June prompted 47 appeals to the Electoral Court over National Assembly and council nominations. All the appeals were dealt with last week by judges sitting in Bulawayo [3 judges] and Harare [16 judges]. Hearings started on 5th July in Harare and three days later in Bulawayo. The last few cases were completed on Thursday 11th July.

    Of the 47 appeals, 17 succeeded, all by aspiring candidates whose nomination papers had been rejected or regarded as void by the nomination courts. The remaining appeals were either dismissed [12] or withdrawn by the appellants [18]. Appeals by the MDC-T as a party, claiming misuse of its party logo, were dismissed on the ground that the relevant provision of the Electoral Act [section 46] only allows an appeal by a rejected aspiring candidate. [Note: The Electoral Court does not have general jurisdiction at this stage to consider appeals falling outside the strict limits of section 46.] Other appeals were dismissed because they were filed too late or because the appeal documents were defective. One appellant wanting to stand for a council failed because, being under 21, he was too young to be elected.

    Effect of Successful Appeals – Additional Candidates

    Successful appeals to the Electoral Court, by candidates rejected by nomination courts, have resulted in additions to the gazetted lists of candidates whose names will appear on ballot papers. The additions have affected:

    • three National Assembly constituency elections [additional candidate’s name and party in brackets]:
    • Hurungwe Central [Langton Mugudubi, MDC]
    • Hurungwe West [Tongai Kwanda, MDC]
    • Zvimba West [Locardia Mupambwa, MDC]
    • a larger number of local authority council elections [see below].

    Constituency elections officers gazetted

    ZEC has also gazetted names and addresses of constituency elections officers for all 210 National Assembly constituencies [GN 363/2013].***

    Local Authority Elections: Lists of Candidates Published in Press

    Daily papers for 12th July contained lengthy supplements listing:

    • candidates for election to local authority councils [note that gazetting is not required – Electoral Act, section 125(4)]
    • wards in which candidates were declared elected unopposed.

    There have been subsequent changes to both lists, as a result of appeals to the Electoral Court against nomination court decisions and of candidates withdrawing from the elections. These have also been notified in the newspapers. [In all, 36 ward lists in 16 local authorities, are affected. 7 of the additional candidates are from MDC-T, 2 from ZANU-PF, 26 from MDC, 1 from UMD, 2 are Independents and there are 2 others.] Presumably new lists will be published in the press.

    Election Documents Available on Website:

    • GN 361/2013*** [Presidential Candidates]
    • GN 362/2013*** [National Assembly Constituency Candidates]
    • GN 363/2013*** [Addresses of Constituency Elections Officers]
    • GN 364/2013*** [Party Lists for National Assembly, Senate and Provincial Councils]

    *** Please note these General Notices are available on the Veritas website but are not available by email.

    • SI 85/2013* [regulations amending the Electoral Act]
    • Consolidated Electoral Act* [including amendments by SI 85/2013]
    • SI 86/2013* and SI 96/2013 [Election proclamation and correction]
    • SI 88/2013* [Electoral Electoral (Nomination of Candidates) Regulations
    • SI 89/3012* [Electoral (Accreditation of Observers) Regulations
    • *available on website and still available by email if requested from

    Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

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