‘Poll postponement out of the question’

Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi
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HARARE – Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections will be conducted between July 23 and August 22, 2018 in keeping with the Constitution, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.

This clarification follows a claim by some opposition figures and former Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo that President Mnangagwa wanted to postpone elections by three years.

Minister Ziyambi told State Media that these dates tally with timeframes provided for in the Constitution, and the polls will not be postponed.

“The Constitution says elections should be held 30 days before expiration of Parliament which runs from the day the President was sworn into office, that is, 22 August 2013,” he said.

“This means elections will not be held later than 22 August 2018; so the issue of postponing polls by three years is out of question.”

Minister Ziyambi said Government has no appetite to violate the supreme law.

“The five-month period mentioned by the President shows that Government is simply complying with provisions of the Constitution. Elections are due, Constitutionally, between July and August 2018.”

Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said Section 158 of the Constitution was specific on election timelines.

Under normal circumstances, he said, elections should be held between July 23 and August 22, 2018 as the law states that polls must take place 30 days before expiration of Parliament.

Parliament’s five-year term began on August 22, 2013 when former President Robert Mugabe was sworn into office.

“We cannot have elections before July 23, 2018 because of the provisions set out in Section 158 of the Constitution. It’s also not possible Constitutionally to hold elections after August 22, 2018,” said Prof Madhuku.

“We also can’t have elections without a Parliament because the Constitutional Court ruled in the Jealousy Mawarire case in 2013 that there should be Parliament at all times. That was the ConCourt’s interpretation of the law.”

He further explained that the President could proclaim an election 28 days before voting day.

“This means that we may expect proclamation of election dates around April 2018 because the President has to give notice,” said Prof Madhuku.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it is preparing for elections, with the voters’ roll expected in April.

Zec Commissioner Dr Qubani Moyo said voter registration ends on February 8 after which the Commission will conduct duplication checks.

“We will then allow the public to inspect the voters’ roll, which we expect to be ready by April. Then the proclamation of election dates will be done by the President in terms of the Electoral Law,” he said.