Door now wide open for Mnangagwa to announce election dates


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The door is now wide open for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to announce dates for this year’s elections following a Constitutional Court ruling that no one, court or individual, can stop the President from proclaiming the elections.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba said this was the President’s constitutional duty.

“No one, including the courts, has power to alter what is mandated by the Constitution in clear, unambiguous and mandatory terms,” he said.

“It would be unconstitutional for a court or judge to order the President not to call and set dates for the holding of the harmonised general elections as prayed for by the applicants.

“The mandatory obligation is imposed on the President by the Constitution for the benefit of all the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Justice Malaba said this when he threw out a case by two opposition parties to bar Mnangagwa from announcing election dates until the Political Parties Finance Act was amended to enable the government to finance all political parties.

According to the Herald, Zimbabwe now has 128 political parties.

Justice Malaba said political parties were not income generating projects.

“The formation of a political party is not an income generating project. The taxpayer’s money cannot be used to fund upstart political parties which may not be bona fide,” he said.

“A situation where political parties are formed and registered to participate in a general election, simply to secure funding by the State, cannot have the effect of promoting multi-party democracy.”

The Chief Justice said a political party should have the support of the people and this is shown by the number of votes the party gets.

Currently only parties that poll more than 5 percent of the vote in an election are entitled to funding.

“Entitlement to payment of the money from public funds appropriated for the purpose of funding political parties is not a fundamental right of a political party,” Justice Malaba said.

“A political party should have the support of the people and this is shown by votes received. There has to be a criterion for political parties’ financing.”

Mnangagwa still has to gazette the Amended Electoral Act.

Once he has proclaimed the election date, the Nomination Court must sit within the next 14 days, but this should not exceed 21 days.

Following that elections must be held not less than 30 days after the sitting but not more than 63.

All indications are that Mnangagwa wants the elections held in July though the last day they can be held is 21 August.

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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