June 29 dream crumbles

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party’s plan for a June poll has all but crumbled, and many are now waiting to see how the 89-year-old will publicly handle the climb-down.

After fiercely and repeatedly declaring that elections will be held by June 29 despite opposition from MDC coalition government partners, Mugabe could be preparing how best to handle the embarrassment of — once again — facing up to the fact that he no longer enjoys power to unilaterally call elections.

Observers say a fresh 30-day voter registration agreed to by all coalition partners and provided for in the new constitution has unmasked Mugabe’s pretence on an early election.

Even if the exercise was to start today, it would only end on June 27 making at the earliest, two days before the June 29 date. In a sign Mugabe’s poll push was a blush, the 89-year-old is yet to announce a poll date despite boldly declaring he would do so more than 10 days ago.

It is exactly 12 days after Mugabe’s May 15 threat that he would proclaim an election date “by the end of the week” yet his Zanu PF party is still in the dark on the dates as the veteran leader continues to flip-flop.

Although Mugabe has since assented to the new constitution, he is yet to act on his election date pronouncements threat.

Zanu PF’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday could not give an immediate response when the Daily News pressed him if the party still stood by its leader’s June 29 poll date.

“I am unable to answer that question now, why don’t you ask me on Wednesday?” Gumbo said.

Mugabe’s coalition partners Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry minister Welshman Ncube are on record as stating that a June 29 election is impractical given the time left to carry out a 30-day voter registration exercise and other legal requirements.

Douglas Mwonzora, co-chairperson of the Constitution Parliamentary Committee which spearheaded the drafting of the new constitution, said Mugabe is trying to move mountains and knows the futility of his actions.

“June 29 is now a legal impossibility,” Mwonzora said.

“There must be a period of 44 days between the declaration and the actual polling. In terms of the new Constitution, the calling of a Nomination Court must be done within a period of 14 days.

After Nomination Court, there must a period of at least 30 days to the actual polling. This makes a total of 44 days.

“Mugabe knew this was impossible since he started posturing and this also shows that he is receiving very poor quality legal advice and we feel sorry for him.”

Two weeks ago, Ncube told his supporters in Chikomba that although there is no legal outlet to allow for a June 29 election.

Observers say the 89-year-old Zanu PF leader has no intention of holding a general election soon, with his party in disarray owing to factional fights to succeed him by rival camps.
 
Despite dispatching a team to some of its troubled provinces to stop the fire caused by the factional fighting, there is still chaos over primary elections which are yet to be held. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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