Elections in 2013

Were the July 2013 elections in Zimbabwe fair? Only the Constitutional Court and ZANU PF-controlled Herald newspaper seem able to give a definitive answer to this question – not, however, through having undertaken a detailed analysis of the electoral conditions and process, but, in the case of the Herald, by attributing statements to this effect to various observer groups that did not, in fact, make them.

In a report on the polling figures for the March 16th Referendum of 2013 on a new constitution for Zimbabwe, the Election Support Centre (a Harare-based NGO) states that “the flurry of votes has left more answers than questions (sic) with various suggestions being made to explain the rise in the voter turnout”. Both ZANU PF and MDC-T sought to interpret increased numbers at the poll, (relative to the 2008 elections and all previous polls) as a sign of support for their parties’ policies and claimed extreme satisfaction with the results.

After the poll in the elections of the 29th March, 2008, the populace eagerly awaited the result of the crucial presidential election. Although the Electoral Act then did not stipulate any period within which the results had to be released, the Act did require that each step of the tabulation process was to be completed expeditiously, deploying phrases and words such as “immediately thereafter”, “without delay” and “forthwith”.

In several articles recently posted by RAU, it was noted that the President cannot comply with both the Electoral Law as it currently stands, and with the Constitutional Court ruling that elections be held by 31st July, 2013. Today’s (10.06.13) Herald has Professor Madhuku stating in effect “No problem. Mugabe can just use the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to alter all the necessary provisions of the Electoral Act to enable him to meet the deadline”.

Last week the newly established Constitutional Court handed down its first judgment, that in the case of Jealousy Mbizvo Mawarire v Robert Gabriel Mugabe N.O. and Ors CCZ1/13. Mr. Mawarire had brought an urgent application “against” the President in a successful attempt to provide legal cover for Mugabe to do that which political constraints prevented – call an election as soon as possible

On Friday 31st May, 2013, the newly established Constitutional Court issued its first judgment, that is the case of Jealousy Mbizvo Mawarire v Robert Gabriel Mugabe N.O. and Ors CCZ1/13. The judgment concerned an urgent application by Mr. Mawarire, brought on the basis of a claim that the President was constitutionally obliged to set the dates for Zimbabwe’s next general election no later than the day after the 29th June 2013 when Parliament reaches the end of its constitutionally prescribed five-year term. The failure to do so, Mr. Mawarire maintained, was a breach of his constitutional rights and would have the unconstitutional effect of the country being governed without a Parliament.

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