The powerful can be all but powerless

‘WE cannot go beyond March next year,” President Robert Mugabe told a Zanu PF meeting in early September 2011. “I will definitely announce the (election) date. It does not matter what anyone would say. Once I announce the date, everyone will follow.”

Editor’s Memo with Dumisani Muleya

That was vintage Mugabe threatening to arbitrarily stampede the country into early elections following a Zanu PF annual conference resolution in Mutare in 2010 which said elections would be held the following year without fail.

Of course, 2011, which Mugabe and his officials had baselessly claimed was the final year of the coalition government, came to pass without elections.

Mugabe and his gullible followers, including his state media hacks who seem to have been programmed to parrot whatever he says no matter how ridiculous, then changed tune: elections will be held in March 2012 whether anyone likes it or not.

As we now all know, there were no elections last year. When it became clear the polls would not be there, Zanu PF fifth columnists, motivated by sinister designs to subvert the will of the people, then tried to ride on the by-elections court case to force through general elections.

So after the Supreme Court directed Mugabe to proclaim by-election dates by August 31 last year, they went to the High Court to seek a reprieve until October while strategising. They got another respite until March 31 this year.

The propaganda machine went into overdrive again, misleading the nation general elections would now be held on March 31, come what may. Every story written in the state media around this issue was laced with such deceit.

However, the date came and passed, yet again. As time ticked away and Mugabe sweated over his uncertain future, things got desperate. Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa went to the High Court for the third time seeking another relief for Mugabe to be given until June 29 to announce by-elections dates.

In a Machiavellian bid, Chinamasa tried to make back-door manoeuvres to secure an order declaring general elections be held by or on June 29.

We exposed the plot and forced them to drop it. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who together with Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube have stood firm against plans for early polls without reforms to level the playing field, went to court to block Mugabe’s bid.

Tsvangirai, however, withdrew his application after assurances by the Attorney-General’s Office Chinamasa’s shenanigans would not be tolerated. But the court granted Mugabe an extension to proclaim by-election dates by June 29.

Then another round of deception followed. Mugabe and Zanu PF officials, backed by the ever-sycophantic state media, started claiming general elections would be held on June 29.

Because the court ruling deferred proclamation of by-elections dates to June 29, a web of deceit and lies had to be weaved around that date which also happens to be the day when Mugabe’s five-year tenure and the lifespan of parliament ends. Hence, the state media now slavishly claiming — even when nobody believes them — general elections would be held on or before June 29.

There was also another official explanation given to justify June 29. We were told elections have to be held on that date because after that, government could well be unconstitutional as the executive would be operating without parliament, implying rule by decree. This is despite a clear provision in the Lancaster House constitution which says general elections must be held within four months of parliament’s dissolution.

Enter comrade Jealousy Mawarire with a curious application: he wants the courts to order general elections by June 29 as government would allegedly be unconstitutional after that. I have no comment on this one except that Mugabe now faces serious disgrace on this issue. Don’t hold your breath.

The powerful can be all but powerless at times.

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