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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Zanu PF big guns walk out of crucial Cabinet meeting
    Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa
    June 18, 2013

    Zanu-PF “big guns” dramatically left en masse an hour after a Cabinet meeting, which was due to discuss the crucial election roadmap, started on Tuesday. The meeting was also supposed to discuss an agreement made by the political parties at the just ended SADC summit, to send Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to ask the Constitutional Court for a two-week delay in the election date.

    The Cabinet was meeting on Tuesday for the first time since President Robert Mugabe unilaterally declared, last Thursday, that elections will be held on July 31st.

    Cabinet meetings are private but some ministers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told SW Radio Africa that Mugabe and his deputy Joice Mujuru were left to discuss the post-Maputo SADC summit and the election roadmap with only three other Zanu-PF ministers Walter Mzembi, Joseph Made and Herbert Murerwa.

    Zanu-PF ministers who left before anything substantial had been discussed included Emmerson Mnangangwa, Nicholas Goche, Sydney Sekeremayi and Ignatius Chombo.

    “Their big guns were not there. They left Cabinet after an hour and we had not discussed anything controversial. We had only discussed the movement of grain, correcting of last week’s minutes and discussing whether dams are full or empty. After that the whole lot of them left at the same time. It was obvious they had a political strategy meeting somewhere.

    “They left at 10 o’clock. So by the time we were discussing election matters they were not there and the Zanu-PF ministers who were left were really not in a position to debate anything meaningful,” said a source.

    The development come a day after the SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomão told SW Radio Africa that the political parties had resolved to use the first two days of this week to “to agree on the issues they feel have to be attended to before they go back to the Constitutional Court to request for more time.” But sources said it is clear that political games and delaying tactics are being played as on Monday a Principals meeting had to be cancelled, because Mugabe left the country for Botswana.

    Another minister said Cabinet then decided the proper forum to now determine the election way forward is at “political level and not at cabinet level.” It was decided that the political leaders will meet Wednesday (Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe, Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube).

    One of the ministers said: “The way forward now? All of that will be determined in the meeting of the political leaders. We said in Maputo we need more time to deal with the legal processes. So the political leaders (principals) will discuss how we are going to go about and decide on who is going to do what.”

    Chinamasa was expected to send the Electoral Amendment Bill to parliament on Tuesday but that too has been put on hold until the principals decide what to do. This is the bill that was passed by cabinet last week where Mugabe used a presidential decree to controversially fast track amendments to the Electoral Act to by-pass parliament, in a move that angered his coalition government partners.

    Another minister revealed that Tuesday’s Cabinet debate, with the few Zanu-PF ministers, centered on the ‘rushed’ presidential proclamation. “We discussed how did we get to where we were fighting each other in Maputo? How did we get to ambushing each other with a proclamation? And how can we chart a way forward.

    “You obviously can’t resolve all these problems at Cabinet level as people speak as individuals at Cabinet. You can speak for ten hours and it won’t help. So we decided that it needs to be discussed at the highest level, by the principals, to give clear guidance on what is possible and what is not possible.”

    The cabinet ministers said Wednesday’s Principals meeting should resolve: whether to revoke Mugabe’s proclamation, how to revoke it, whether to take the Electoral Amendment Bill to parliament, how to approach the Constitutional Court and with what timelines.

    Whilst the cabinet agreed that the principals would deal with all these issues, the Justice Minister is said to have gone ahead and filed a court application seeking an extension of election date without consulting the other political partners. We were not able to reach Chinamasa for comment but an MDC-T official confirmed this latest development whilst at a public debate organised by the SAPES Trust late Tuesday.

    Youth activist Sydney Chisi said the MDC-T’s Jameson Timba told the people at the gathering that he had received a phone call saying Chinamasa had filed a court application seeking an extension of the election date. “He is the sole applicant and all the principals are respondents, yet the inclusive government is supposed to be the applicant as directed by SADC,” Chisi said.

    SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwe's Independent Voice and broadcasts on Short Wave 4880 KHz in the 60m band.

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