The Herald (Harare)

21 March 2013

Zimbabwe: Elections By June 29 - Chinamasa

Photo: IRIN
Zimbabweans at the polls. (file photo)

Zimbabwe will hold the harmonised elections by June 29 this year, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday.

In an interview from Rome - Italy - where he was accompanying President Mugabe for the inauguration mass for Pope Francis, Minister Chinamasa said the tenure of the current Parliament could not go beyond June 29.

"It is imperative to have the elections by June 29 because we will no longer have a Parliament by then and a country cannot be run without Parliament," he said.

"The life of Parliament will not be extended and without it you cannot make laws hence the elections should have been held by the end of June."

President Mugabe told journalists on Tuesday in Rome that it was impossible to stretch the lifespan of the current Parliament as only the tenure of the Executive could be extended.

The President also tasked Minister Chinamasa with the handling of the time-frames for the general elections.

Asked the exact dates when the general polls would be held, Minister Chinamasa said: "As to when exactly, this is an issue we are interrogating, that is looking at the feasibility of holding them within certain time-frames . . . when we finish that process, the nation will be advised accordingly."

Minister Chinamasa said everything related to the elections would be handled in accordance with the law.

"As the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, I am not entertaining the holding of the elections after June 29 unless circumstances beyond my control happen," he said.

"We have a deadline to meet (June 29) and we have to abide by what the law says but the simple fact is that we are not overflowing into July or any day further than the expiry of the constitutional term of the Parliament."

However, addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, said the elections would be held between June 29 and October 29.

"The life of the current Parliament expires at the end of June and assuming that a proclamation is made anytime, then it means we must have them (the elections) between June 29 and October 29," he said.

"If the environment that prevailed during the referendum is indicative of what will come in the forthcoming elections, then it means we are going to have a peaceful election.

"It might be the fact that the political parties were in agreement but generally if we can have an election that is similar to March 2008, then that is nearer to being acceptable and with what we saw during the referendum, we believe it can be better."

MDC-T and MDC have in the past been accused of employing delaying tactics for fear of being whitewashed by Zanu-PF in polls.

Minister Chinamasa also outlined the processes that would follow after the endorsement of the draft constitution by Zimbabweans during the referendum held last weekend.

"Now that the referendum has taken place, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs should get the Constitutional Bill gazetted in a way that at least we have 30 days before it is introduced in Parliament," he said. "If passed in Parliament, we will have the President assenting to it and at the same time there are certain provisions of the new constitution which are related to the elections that will be brought into effect."

Minister Chinamasa said that would trigger the amendments to the Electoral Act.

"This is done to align the Electoral Act with the new supreme law. The elections are going to be on the basis of the new constitution he said.

"After the electoral amendments are passed by Parliament and the President assenting to them, then the process towards the elections immediately begins. The processes we are looking at include proclamation, nomination and the election day."

The draft constitution, produced by Copac, was voted for by the majority of Zimbabweans over the weekend.

The MDC formations that are already smelling defeat, are trying to influence the processes so that the polls are held by at least October after consulting with their masters.

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