June 29 unrealistic for elections: Zuma

SADC facilitator to the Zimbabwean political stalemate, South African President Jacob Zuma, has entered the increasingly heated political fray saying it may not be feasible for the country to hold the polls by June 29 as demanded by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF officials.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

Mugabe and senior Zanu PF officials have lately been pushing for elections to be held by June 29 after failing to ensure polls were held in 2010, 2011 or last year.

Now they have a new argument which claims polls must be conducted by June month-end to comply with the constitution even though the founding law allows elections to be held four months after the expiry of the terms of office of the executive and parliament.

This means elections can constitutionally still be held at the end of October.

Zuma’s international relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu said this week the facilitation team did not think it was feasible for elections to be held by June 29 as envisaged by Mugabe and Zanu PF officials considering a number of issues — including finalising the new constitution, amending electoral laws, voter registration and election dates proclamation — which still have to be done to create an environment for free and fair elections.

“The election dates will be determined by the roadmap to be finalised by the three political parties,” said Zulu.

“There is need to cover certain areas which are important before elections can be held. These include ensuring relevant institutions are functioning well, for instance, Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) has to have all structures in place; some issues still need attention like the Human Rights Commission and Media Commission.
I am generalising, but there are many other issues in the GPA (Global Political Agreement) that are outstanding.”

Zulu added: “We know it’s not going to be easy. But now we need more robust action as we head towards elections.

“We should be in the country after the Easter holidays for continuous engagement on the roadmap towards elections.”

Last week Mugabe made an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking an order to be excused from complying with an earlier Supreme Court directive to proclaim and gazette dates for by-elections in three Matabeleland constituencies by March 31.

Representing Mugabe, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said his boss must be given further reprieve to avoid proclaiming dates for by-elections by Sunday on condition that general elections are held by June 29.

Mugabe’s spokesperson Geo-rge Charamba last weekend said delaying polls beyond June 29 would be an act of “constitutional indiscipline”.

The two MDC parties have however rejected Mugabe’s demands on election dates, saying political and electoral processes will determine when polls are held, not Zanu PF.

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