ZIMBABWE’S unfolding political drama enters the home stretch today with political parties and candidates filing nomination papers for the various positions of a devolved system of government.
Candid Comment with Dingilizwe Ntuli
The Nomination Court is sitting between 10am and 4pm as per the unconstitutional and illegal proclamation made by President Robert Mugabe for elections to be held on July 31 after a Constitutional Court (Concourt) ruling that polls be held by that date.
Sadc has, however, urged Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa to seek an extension. The case is still in the courts, although more chaos has unfolded when he filed an application without any input from the MDC formations.
MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai filed a counter-application arguing that the two-week extension Chinamasa sought was inadequate for fulfilling all legal requirements ahead of polls.
The Concourt deferred indefinitely the poll date hearing meaning the July 31 date still stands until a ruling is made.
This poll date confusion created by Mugabe and hardliners in his Zanu PF party spelt shambles for all political parties and institutions dealing with elections, such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office.
The mandatory 30-day voter registration has seen the RG’s Office limiting the exercise to just three-days per ward and the relatively few centres in urban areas have resulted in eligible potential voters failing to register.
Political parties, including Zanu PF, were also forced into rushed and largely chaotic primary elections whose outcomes in some cases are just tantamount to candidate impositions.
Although the MDC parties may have had some time to sort out any problems, aggrieved losing Zanu PF candidates will be left with no recourse as there is no time for appeals since nomination papers are being filed and respective lists for the proportional parliamentary representation system and provincial councils have to be submitted today.
Although disarray scenes are the political parties’ business, it is the confusion at Zec that is a cause for concern.
It is disturbing that Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau and her deputy Joyce Kazembe can issue conflicting statements in the same week regarding the filing of papers for municipal candidates.
Makarau told political party representatives on Tuesday that for councillors to qualify they should have no criminal record and be up to date with their utility bills.
But 24 hours later Kazembe told traditional leaders that aspiring councillors were no longer required to produce a police clearance certificate and submit evidence of up to date utility bills.
Although Makarau released a press statement yesterday clarifying Zec’s latest position, it was rather late and had certainly already caused inconveniences to prospective candidates being short-changed by this chaos..