HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsIs June 29 for good reason?

Is June 29 for good reason?

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The declaration by President Robert Mugabe and his overweening insistence that elections will be held on or about June 29 is baffling.

NewsDay Editorial

It is difficult to understand the reason behind this behaviour which runs against all logic. A simple inventory of what requires to be done before elections are held clearly shows it is not possible to have elections on June 29.

The processes and timelines that need to be accommodated before the polls require much more time than the 44 days remaining before June 29.

The new constitution which is one of the key pre-requisites is still to be put in place — a process that still requires Presidential assent to the new charter and realignment of existing laws with the supreme law.

The new constitution requires that nomination of candidates is given at least 14 days after the proclamation of election and 30 days before the actual polls. There would also be need for a gestation period for the new constitution, a period within which such bodies as the newly-formed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) would need to be seen to be working within the norms of the supreme law of the land since some of them are crucial for the holding of free and fair elections.

There are also issues to do with the ongoing voter registration which cannot be said to be flowing smoothly, hence the decision by Zec boss Justice Rita Makarau to bring in a new mobile voter registration exercise. The reason was that, after making a personal assessment of the process, Justice Makarau realised the current process was too slow and would not accommodate all potential voters.

After a successful voter registration exercise, there would be need for time for inspection of the voters’ roll.

There is also the need for voter education, without which we cannot claim to have a credible election. Related to this is the campaign time required by contestants.

Simple logic tells you the time remaining before June 29 may not be enough even for the holding of primary elections within parties, let alone serious party campaigning.
Mugabe himself wants to go to at least to every province to campaign in preparation for the bruising battle against Morgan Tsvangirai while his own parliamentary, gubernatorial and municipal aspirants would also need time to campaign. There would also be need for delimitation of constituencies, to go along with the new constitution.

Other than these basic requirements, there are also issues to do with infrastructural modalities of running an election — identification and setting-up of polling stations, acquisition of ballot boxes, printing of ballot papers, indelible inks, hiring and deployment of polling officers and agents, including matters to do with security.

All these issues require a lot of time and a lot of money which this country still does not have and may not have by June 29.

Yet, there is a provision where the Executive could remain in office for four months after the dissolution of Parliament, time within which we can have all these issues addressed in a sane manner.

Why is Mugabe and his party in such haste to want to do the impossible? Is there any understandable reason or is it all to do with the date called June 29 — a date many Zimbabweans consider cursed given the many ugly memories of the blood spilt on the way to the June 29, 2008 sham election?

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