Zim election delay

2013-06-16 14:00

Mugabe agrees to ask for two-week extension for the country’s elections following SADC summit this weekend

President Robert Mugabe has agreed to ask the Constitutional Court for a two-week extension for its July 31 deadline for Zimbabwe’s next election.

Mugabe, as well as leaders of opposition political parties in Zimbabwe, attended a Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary summit in Maputo, Mozambique yesterday where an agreement on the extension of the elections date was reached.

Mugabe earlier this week angered opposition parties by unilaterally decreeing that Zimbabwe’s next election will be held on July 31.

The move was regarded as an attempt by Mugabe to outfox the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its coalition partners because none of the parties, including Mugabe’s own Zanu-PF, are ready for the poll.

President Jacob Zuma, who is SADC’s facilitator in Zimbabwe, suggested at the summit yesterday that the elections be postponed to allow the parties to resolve their outstanding issues outside the courtroom, Zuma’s adviser on international relations Lindiwe Zulu said.

Yesterday’s summit “adopted the recommendations of the facilitator, which cover the issues of media reform, rule of law, the elections date, the validity of the electoral regulations and other issues,” she said.

“When you are talking about the elections date, he was saying it is not helpful to anyone to get the outstanding issues resolved in the courtroom.”

Mugabe used chapter 10 of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to proclaim the poll date without consulting Parliament.

The Constitutional Court ruled on May 31 that Mugabe must set elections by July 31. Mugabe has been pushing for early polls all along, thus defying the election road map, which is supervised by South Africa and was drawn up by SADC.

Mugabe’s electoral proclamation has attracted condemnation at home, even from his own party.

On Thursday, the same day as Mugabe’s announcement, Zanu-PF chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo briefed the politburo, the party’s central decision-making body, saying Zanu-PF was not ready.

He said the party first needed to deal with internal divisions in three key provinces – Masvingo, Bulawayo and Manicaland – before it could go to the polls.

“None of the political parties are ready,” political analyst Dumisani Nkomo told City Press.

“They have been busy working on seeing reforms fulfilled. Most have not yet conducted primary elections, including Zanu-PF and the MDC-N. The MDC-T has not yet finished its primaries. The voters’ roll is far from being ready. It is chaotic.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai this week accused Mugabe of violating the Constitution and the power-sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and the MDC, created in the wake of violent and disputed elections five years ago.

“Mugabe is deliberately precipitating a constitutional crisis,” said Tsvangirai.

He reiterated his view that the state media and security forces needed to be reformed before any poll to ensure it was fair. The soonest Zimbabwe could be ready for elections was August 25, he said.

In response to Mugabe’s election decree, most of the 28 registered political parties have sought to speak with one voice, rejecting the date.

They are also discussing the idea of forming an alliance to go up against Zanu-PF in the polls. The plan has the backing of the two main opposition parties, the MDC-T and the MDC.

Secretary-general of the MDC-T, Tendai Biti, last night described the summit as “historic”, according to a tweet by Zimbabwe’s Southern Eye newspaper.

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