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Zimbabwe elections body rules out mayoral polls in Harare
September 02, 2005
HARARE -- The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) says Harare residents can only elect a mayor
and councillors of their choice after four years when the term of a state-appointed
commission running the opposition-supporting capital cannot be renewed.
The commission was
appointed in September last year after opposition Movement for Democratic
Change councilors resigned in protest against what they said was interference
by the government in the running of the politically crucial capital. Its
term has expired.
But Local Government
Minister Ignatius Chombo extended the commission’s term and has ruled
out municipal elections in the city saying he wants to improve its administration
first before a new council can take over.
In papers filed on
Thursday in response to a High Court application by the Combined Harare
Residents Association (CHRA) demanding the ZEC to hold elections in the
capital, commission chairman George Chiweshe wrote: "It is within
the powers of the ZEC to postpone elections for the office of Mayor for
a period not exceeding (3) three months at any one time.
"This (the commission)
can do until the fourth year, from the time the Mayor (and council) was
elected, when it becomes obligatory to hold elections and no further postponements
are then allowed."
Harare residents accuse
the government of stalling on elections in the capital for fear it could
lose the polls to the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
which has consistently won all elections in all major urban centres since
its formation six years ago.
The Harare Commission
was a back-door means by President Robert Mugabe and his government to
retain control of the capital city, residents say.
The ZEC created by
the government is empowered to run elections in Zimbabwe but critics say
the body lacks independence because it was virtually handpicked by Mugabe
and the majority of its members are well-known supporters of the ruling
ZANU PF party.
For example, Chiweshe
himself is a former senior army officer and was appointed to the High
Court after Mugabe purged the bench of independent judges.
In the run up to the
disputed March election, Chiweshe headed the Delimitation Commission that
redrew the country’s voting constituencies, abolishing constituencies
from MDC-dominated areas and awarding them to rural areas where ZANU PF
enjoys more support. - ZimOnline.
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