COPAC’S management committee has deferred the adoption of Section 158 of the new draft constitution which would have required the country to hold general elections “not more than 30 days” before June 29, thwarting President Robert Mugabe’s latest poll strategy.
Owen Gagare/Paidamoyo Muzulu
The management committee’s move effectively blocked a loophole which could have been exploited by Mugabe to have elections held by June 29 at all costs.
The committee met at the Copac offices in Milton Park, Harare, on Tuesday and agreed to defer the section which deals with timing of elections until 2018.
MDC director of policy and research Qhubani Moyo chaired the meeting, which was also attended by his MDC colleague Paul Themba Nyathi, Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Transport minister Nicholas Goche and Copac co-chairpersons Paul Mangwana of Zanu PF and Douglas Mwonzora of MDC-T as well as Finance minister Tendai Biti and Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga.
The parties, however, failed to agree on Zanu PF’s request to scrap the requirement for a 30-day voter registration period which the party wanted so as to expedite the process for the holding of elections.
They also disagreed over a proposed amendment to accommodate the Office of the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, resulting in a deadlock that may further delay elections.
The changes to the draft, two days before it was gazetted, were initially noted in a memorandum dated March 20 2013 from Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza to Matinenga.
The memorandum was also copied to the Law Reviser.
Mabhiza argued it was not practicable to bring into effect some of the new electoral changes encapsulated in the draft on the day the president gazettes the new constitution.
Section 158(1a) reads: “A general election must be held so that polling takes place not more than 30 days before the expiry of the five-year period specified in Section 143.”