AN independent electoral watchdog has warned that President Emmerson Mnangagwa could find himself in breach of the country’s electoral laws, if he proclaims election dates before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has finalised the voters’ roll.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn), in a statement yesterday, said the President can only proclaim election dates after Zec has presented him with a final copy of the voters’ roll.
“The grey area is this, no voters’ roll, no election proclamation. It is a preliminary for all elections and will be finalised after the inspection period, not knowing how long it will take for Zec to have a final roll after elections,” Zesn said.
Legally, after the proclamation the nomination court is expected to seat within 14 days while candidates should have at least 44 days for campaigns.
Section 157 of the Constitution, stipulates the minimum period from proclamation to nomination date is 14 days, and from nomination date to polling date, 30 days — giving a minimum of 44 days from the proclamation date to polling.
Section 38 of the Electoral Act stipulates a maximum 84 days between proclamation and polling.
“Proclamation date must not be less than 44 days and not more than 84 days before polling, based on the earliest polling date of July 23, the proclamation must be gazetted in the period of May 30 to June 9 and based on the latest polling date of August 21, 2018, the proclamation must be gazetted in the period May 30 to July 9,” Zesn said.
Mnangagwa should also consult with Zec before making his proclamation, but is not obliged to take their submissions into consideration.
“Section 144(3) of the Constitution lays down that the dates for the election must be fixed by the President “after consultation with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission”.
Section 339(2) explains that this means Zec must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to make recommendations or representations about proposed dates and that the President must give careful consideration to any such recommendations and representations although he is not obliged to follow them,” Zesn said.