The April election date came up last month when Nicole Fritz of the Helen Suzman Foundation said that the South African government had extended Zimbabwe Exemption Permits by six months to June 2023, to stop Zimbabweans, who should have returned home by the end of this year from voting against the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
ZEPs expired at the end of last year but were extended by one year to the end of this year.
The Helen Suzman Foundation is taking the South African government to court arguing that its decision not to renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits was “hasty, untransparent and ill-considered”.
Fritz says in her affidavit that this will expose Zimbabwean immigrants to dangers of xenophobic attacks, extortion, detention and deportation.
In an op-ed article for News 24 on 20 September, Fritz wrote: “There is now some speculation that the reason for this most recent six-month extension is that it is a sop to Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF: delaying the return of those who fled its murderous policies until after the next elections, scheduled fo April 2023, means they cannot vote against ZANU. I find that speculation, assuming as it does such deeply cynical calculation, hard to credit……”
Asked where she had obtained the April election date, Fritz cited an article by Gift Dafuleya published by The Conversation way back on 1 June. In that article Dafuleya says Zimbabwe’s elections will be held on 23 April 2023.
He does not cite his source and a link to that date points to a Chinese website.
The Zimbabwe Constitution is, however,specific about when elections can be held. It says elections must be held not more than 30 days before the expiry of the 5-year-term of the President.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in on 26 August 2018 which means that elections cannot be held before 25 July unless Parliament is dissolved or expresses a vote of no confidence in the President.
If Parliament is dissolved, elections have to be held 90 days after the dissolution.