The delay in passing the Electoral Amendment Bill is making it more and more likely that President Emmerson Mnangagwa can only announce the date for this year’s elections in June.
Parliamentary watchdog, Veritas Zimbabwe, says contrary to a recent media report that there is enough time for electoral changes as Mnangagwa has until the eve of polling day to push through the Amendment Bill, the constitution says any amendments, if they are to apply to this year’s elections, have to be made before proclamation day.
“Section 157(5) of the Constitution is as follows: ‘After an election has been called, no change to the Electoral Law or to any other law relating to elections has effect for the purpose of that election’”, Veritas says.
“This means that: the Electoral Amendment Bill currently stalled in the National Assembly must be passed by both Houses of Parliament, signed by the President and published in the Government Gazette as an Act of Parliament before the President’s proclamation calling the election [if the Government intends the Bill’s changes to the Electoral Act to apply to the forthcoming election].”
Zimbabwe’s elections have to be held between 21 July and 21 August.
The earliest Mnangagwa can proclaim elections is 30 April and the latest is 8 July.
Parliament is on recess until 8 May which means Mnangagwa cannot proclaim elections before that date.
“Talk of a proclamation date close to 30th April ceased some time ago. That is understandable — the delay over the Electoral Amendment Bill becoming law and the delay in the publication of the provisional voters roll have obviously excluded the possibility of a proclamation being gazetted much before the end of May. A proclamation date well into June is becoming more likely with every day that passes,” Veritas says.
Mnangagwa has promised free, fair, transparent and credible elections to get Zimbabwe back into the international fold and the mandate he needs to be able to revamp the country’s economy.
He has also invited both international and regional election observers including the United States.
Abiding by the country’s constitution will therefore be one of the key requirements.
See also: The roadmap to Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections