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Sadc summit date set

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The extra-ordinary Sadc summit which will deal with the contentious issue of Zimbabwe’s elections will take place on Saturday in Maputo, Mozambique.

VENERANDA LANGA

The summit which had been initially penciled for last Sunday had to be postponed following a request by President Robert Mugabe who was on a nine day visit to Japan.

In a media advisory note released last night, the regional bloc said the extraordinary summit of Sadc Heads Of State and Government would discuss political developments in the region.

“The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Heads of State and Government Extraordinary Summit on the political developments in the Region has been rescheduled to take place on June 15, 2013 in Maputo, Mozambique,” read part of the statement.

The summit comes at a time main political parties in the unity government — MDC-T, MDC and Zanu PF were at loggerheads over the timing of harmonised elections expected this year.

This follows  a Constitutional Court decision that elections must be held by July 31. The current parliament’s tenure ends on June 29.

Mugabe and his Zanu PF party insist that elections must be held with or without reforms set out in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The summit is crucial as regional leaders were expected to discuss Zimbabwe’s roadmap to elections and compliance with the provisions of the GPA.

SADC facilitator to the Zimbabwe crisis, South Africa president Jacob Zuma, is expected to present a report on the country’s preparedness at the crunch summit.

Meanwhile, Cabinet yesterday discussed and finalised amendments to the Electoral Bill that would be brought to Parliament next week for crafting, paving way to the polls. Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said Cabinet was seized with the matter during its deliberations.

“We discussed the issue in Cabinet and we finalised that Electoral Amendments should come before Parliament next week,” Mutambara said.
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga also confirmed the development. Matinenga said this in the House of Assembly while adjourning yesterday’s sitting to today.

“It seems honourable members are not interested in debate today and are gearing up for important debate on the Electoral Amendment Bill which is coming before the House sometime next week,” Matinenga said. According to Parliament procedure, any amendments to a law are supposed to be gazetted 14 days before notice of presentation of the amendment Bill is made in the House.

Notice of presentation of the Electoral Amendment Bill has not yet been made by the responsible minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Parliament still has 17 more sitting days before its dissolution on June 29.

However, legal experts said the minister could seek waiver through a majority vote of MPs present in the House of Assembly to suspend the requirement that the Bill be gazetted 14 days before it is brought to Parliament.

The MDCs have demanded reforms before elections were done and some of them include amendments to laws that have a bearing on elections and were deemed oppressive such as the Public Order and Security Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as media laws.

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