Zanu PF misleading nation on polls dates

HARARE - Zanu PF officials are once again clearly misdirecting members of the public by falsely claiming and insisting that elections must be held before the midnight of June 29, 2013 as there are no conditions warranting an extension as required in the current Constitution of Zimbabwe.

With all due respect, it is now clear that Zanu PF members are ill-informed on the constitutional trajectory in Zimbabwe and misleading the nation, particularly on issues that they cannot adequately comprehend.

Section 63 of the current Constitution of Zimbabwe, provides for exceptional circumstances under which the life of the Parliament can be extended.

We know that Zimbabwe is not at war and there is no state of emergency and so, all things being equal the life of the seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe shall exist by June 29, 2013 at midnight.

But however, the life of Parliament is not necessarily linked to the life of the Executive arm of the State.

Putting it differently, the dissolution of Parliament does not necessarily entail the simultaneous dissolution of the Executive arm of the State.

The President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, ministers and their deputies can effectively remain in office for a period of not less than three months from the date Parliament is dissolved.

This effectively means that the Executive can remain in office up until September 29 when the country goes for elections.

Zanu PF should know that the State comprises of three arms, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and anyone who argues that the dissolution of Parliament is tantamount to that of the State is therefore clearly misdirected.

It is therefore important that Zanu PF officials should stop masquerading as lawyers especially on areas they do not understand.

Previously, elections in Zimbabwe have been postponed on several occasions in special instances and no Zanu PF officials have raised a finger.

In 1990, the elections were postponed after Patrick Kombayi who was campaigning against Zanu PF’s Simon Muzenda, was shot during his campaign.

Kombayi who later went on to become an MDC Senator for Chirumhanzu-Gweru was left permanently disabled.
The State security agents responsible for the shooting were convicted of the crime but never spent a day in prison as they were pardoned.

In 2000, the elections which were scheduled for March were again postponed after the country went for the referendum on the new constitution.

According to international observers, during the elections there was extensive electoral fraud and intimidation of voters by Zanu PF.

International attention focused on pre-election political violence and intimidation of voters across the country.

Following the February referendum, over 30 people were killed, and many more — some 5 000 were harassed, beaten and forced to engage in partisan activities.

At that time, the MDC expressed concern that, despite over 20 murders since the referendum, the police had not yet made any single arrest.

It is therefore important that elections in Zimbabwe are held after June 29 in order for the necessary issues raised in the new constitution to be properly included in the holding of the next elections.

It is false for Zanu PF to claim and assume that when the term of the Parliament expires on June 29, the term of the Executive becomes moribund and we cannot have Cabinet ministers.

Zanu PF should stop playing games and it is disturbing that the party is trivialising the issue of elections, which is very key on the country’s future both economic and social.

Zanu PF politicians should instead be calling for the speedy implementation of all the outstanding reforms such as security sector and media reforms before the elections are held.

It is in that regard, the reiterations from progressive forces that before elections are conducted in Zimbabwe, certain minimum conditions must be met to ensure that the outcome of that election is not a contested one.

Zanu PF like other political parties should be joining the call for the immediate implementation of the proposed changes in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.

The reckless statements being made by the Zanu PF officials are a clear indication that the party wants to mislead and confuse the electorate while mounting a well-oiled system of intimidation, fraud and repressive laws ahead of the next elections.

Virtually every election that has been held in Zimbabwe has been contested, none more fractious as the 2002 Presidential Election and the June 2008 farcical run-off.

These sham elections that have been reproduced periodically in Zimbabwe have created an unstable State, which is heavily prone to dislocation and this has laid the basis of the current fragile and unstable State, which should definitely be brought to an end before December 31, 2013.

A huge premium has been paid as a result of Zimbabwe’s unstable political landscape and insincerity on the part of Zanu PF.

Part of the price paid includes a collapsed economy, sharp decline in our human development indicators and a complete collapse of infrastructure.

The net effect of all this is that Zimbabwe has become a liability to its citizens and its neighbours alike.

This is totally unacceptable as Zimbabwe cannot afford and continue to be in a permanent state of a crisis.

*Paganga works in MDC’s information department.

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