A COTERIE of Zanu PF political hardliners desperate to stampede the nation into general elections after last week’s controversial and widely criticised Constitutional Court ruling, which they are linked to, is plotting to make a court application in a bid to shorten the mandatory 30-day voters’ registration exercise to ensure it runs concurrently with related processes to meet the July 31 deadline.
Report by Owen Gagare
Informed sources said it was likely another “concerned citizen” would soon mysteriously emerge through the courts claiming the compulsory 30-day voters’ registration, which in terms of the law starts soon after publication of the new constitution, actually started on May 23 despite that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Rita Makarau and Registrar- General Tobaiwa Mudede confirmed this week the process will start on Monday.
The new constitution was signed, gazetted and published on May 22.
Sources said realising the July 31 deadline for elections is technically impossible to meet if the country conducts a 30-day voter registration starting on Monday and takes into account other related matters, Zanu PF officials are working behind the scenes on a plan to use the courts to shorten the legal time of the processes to suit their political designs.
President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF have since 2011 been demanding early elections in vain. However, last week’s court ruling suited their political agenda.
Mudede announced on Wednesday the 30-day mandatory voter registration would start on Monday. If the 30-day voters’ registration process starts on Monday and follows the legal route, it will end around July 9.
After that the president can then proclaim dates for elections. Legally, the nomination court can only sit 14 days after the proclamation of elections dates.
There has to be 30 days between nomination of candidates and polling day.
If voters’ registration ends around July 9, nomination could then follow on July 23, meaning polling day which must be a month after that would fall around August 23, a day before Zimbabwe holds the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in Victoria Falls. The conference runs from August 24-29.
But Zanu PF hardliners – emboldened the Constitutional Court ruling after an application by former journalist Jealousy Mawarire — are said to be working on an application to seek an order saying the 30-day mandatory voter registration started on May 23.
Although Mawarire, executive director of the shadowy Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa, was widely thought to be working with Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo and certain state actors, has denied the reports saying he was acting independently.
Moyo this week claimed in a local state-controlled daily on Monday the 30-day voters’ registration started on May 22, suggesting this was a shared view in some Zanu PF circles considering information from our sources.
“Anyone who thinks that the constitutionally mandatory 30-day period for voter registration is yet to commence is living in cuckoo land,” he said.
“The unassailable constitutional position is that the 30-day period in question started on May 22, 2013 when President Mugabe assented to and published the new constitution in the Gazette. What this means is that – constitutionally – today (Monday) is the twelfth day of that mandatory 30-day voter registration exercise,” Moyo claimed.
Trying to seize on the technicality that the 30-day voters’ registration exercise must start after the publication of the new constitution, Moyo seemed to confirm reports some Zanu PF officials were planning to seek a court order by proxy to stampede the nation to meet the July 31 Constitutional Court deadline.
“This position is very clear from the reading of Section 6(3) of the Sixth Schedule of the new constitution which provides that, ‘The Registrar-General of Voters, under the supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, must conduct a special and intensive voter registration and a voters’ roll inspection exercise for at least 30 days after the publication day’,” he said.
Constitutional Court ruling opens floodgates for more applications
LAST week’s Constitutional Court ruling has opened the floodgates for more election-related applications as the country tries to come to terms with the ruling that ordered polls to be held by July 31.
Yesterday a minor political party, Zimbabwe Development Party led by Kisinoti Mukwazhe, filed an application to compel government to give it US$1,5 million to enable it to prepare for the forthcoming general elections.
Prior to that South African based businessman Mutumwa Mawere filed an application to stop the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) from conducting the voter registration exercise until the issue of the citizenship status of Zimbabwean –born persons who are holders of foreign citizenship by registration is clarified.
Mawere was barred from registering as a voter because he is now a South African citizen by naturalisation.
Indications are there will be a number of election-related applications that will be filed with the Constitutional Court in the next weeks.
In a court application lodged with the Constitution Court yesterday, ZDP cited justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga, Zec chairperson Rita Makarau and Finance minister Tendai Biti as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents.
“In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Chapter 4, Part 2, section 67 (4) states that “…for the purpose of promoting multi-party democracy, an Act of Parliament must provide for the funding of political parties”, meaning all political parties registered with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the applicant is such,” read his applications.
“The applicant is entitled to material which includes funds to enable it to prepare fully for the forthcoming general elections and requires at least US$1,5 million…”