June 29 election impossible: Ncube

HARARE - Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller MDC faction has drilled holes into President Robert Mugabe’s assertion that elections will be held at the end of June.

Addressing the Zanu PF central committee on Saturday, Mugabe said there was no going back on the June 29 elections.

But Ncube argues that the processes that are involved for Zimbabwe to hold credible polls would take almost 56 days.

“The earliest date by which elections can be held is around the middle of August if you are to follow the legal processes which are required to call an election,” Ncube told the Daily News last week before Mugabe’s speech on Saturday.

“First, we must complete the making of a new constitution. Parliament only resumes on the 7th of May (tomorrow) to begin business.

“Assuming there are no major problems you expect that both the House of Assembly and the Senate should have completed the exercise in a two-week period which should be somewhere around the 14th -20th of May thereabout.

“Thereafter, the president is required to consider the draft and sign it into law. Again if he fast tracks, you probably will have him gazetting it around the 20th of May. That constitution once gazetted, most parts of it become law. We are then bound by those parts of the constitution which would have become law,” said the MDC leader.

The former University of Zimbabwe law lecturer said one of the things which was relevant to elections as per the new constitution’s requirements was a voter registration outreach for aminimum of 30 days.

“And let’s assume for argument’s sake that ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is able to start that process on May 21st. Let me underline that exercise must be done after publication day, not before.

“The constitution is very clear. You can’t start it before the constitution is gazetted and has become law,” explained Ncube.

“...Which basically means around May 21st the earliest. Your 30 days will take you to around June 21st which means that by the time you have completed the extended voter registration exercise, there will be one week left to the 29th and clearly therefore you can’t hold an election within seven days.

“What you will then be required to do after the voter registration exercise, which would end sometime around mid-June is to then proclaim an election. The law requires that the President must give us no less than 14 days notice to the proclamation. And then must give us no less than 42 days from the proclamation to election day.

“That’s approximately 56 days altogether which is two months. Two months from mid-June will take you to mid-August. That is why we say, legally you cannot hold elections earlier than the middle of August,” said the MDC president.

“Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has also argued along the same lines saying legally and logistically, it was impossible to hold elections at the end of June.

Mugabe insists elections will be held at the end of June upon expiry of Parliament and his term.

“This two or three-headed creature called the GPA is coming to an end, the clock is ticking. This is May and at the end of June, whether anyone likes it or not nguva inenge yakwana, the sun will set,” Mugabe said on Saturday.

The two MDC formations have warned that hurried elections will not be credible and are an assault on the principles agreed to by the three parties at the signing of the GPA.

Last week, Tsvangirai was on a regional offensive in a bid to persuade African leaders to halt Mugabe’s charge towards sham elections.

But Mugabe on Friday appeared to have found an unlikely boost from a civic group which lodged an urgent Supreme Court application seeking to force the veteran leader to announce election dates.

Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa (CEDSA) executive director Jealousy Mawarire said principals in the inclusive government were “causing unnecessary confusion when it was a legal fact that Parliament would be dissolved on June 29”.

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