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The roadmap to Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections

Nomination Day

When the President has decided the polling day and proclamation day, the day for nomination can be fixed.  Nomination day is the day on which candidates have to take their papers to a nomination court.   There must be a minimum period of 14 days, and a maximum of 21days, from proclamation to nomination day [Constitution section 157(3) and Electoral Act section 38].

[Note: There must be a minimum of 30 days from nomination date to polling date and a maximum of 63 days]

The Voters Roll

Ideally this should be ready before nomination day as candidates have to be nominated [i.e. endorsed] by registered voters who should have checked that their names on the voters roll – i.e. the new BVR roll.

The Electoral Act [section 21(4)] states that, within a reasonable period of time after the proclamation calling an election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ ZEC] must provide political parties and observers on request with a copy of the voters roll to be used in the election.

The President Must Consult with ZEC

As ZEC must have the voters roll ready and all necessary steps in place for a free and fair election, the following proviso in the Constitution is important: 

Section 144(3) of the Constitution lays down that the dates for the election must be fixed by the President “after consultation with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission”.  Section 339(2) explains that this means ZEC must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to make recommendations or representations about proposed dates and that the President must give careful consideration to any such recommendations and representations, although he is not obliged to follow them.  The need for this consultation with ZEC is repeated in section 38(1) of the Electoral Act.

Suggestions of an Early Election After Dissolution of Parliament.

The dissolution of Parliament will occur automatically in terms of section 143(1) of the Constitution, which provides as follows—

“Parliament stands dissolved at midnight on the day before the first polling day in the next general election called in terms of section 144”.

But although the Constitution no longer allows the President to dissolve Parliament at will and provides that normally Parliament should serve out its five-year term, Parliament does have the power to dissolve itself. [Section 143 of the Constitution]

To do this would require the passing, by a least two-thirds of the current members of the National Assembly and the Senate, sitting separately, of resolutions to dissolve Parliament [section 143(2)]

If Parliament were to do that the President must proclaim a general election to be held within 90 days of the resolution of dissolution.  When the President proclaims the election in these circumstances he still has to observe the times fixed in the Constitution and the Electoral Act for the various steps in the electoral process  –  nomination and polling  –  to take place, and as noted above the whole process must take between 44 and 84 days.

So in theory, if this route were to be taken, the next general election could be earlier than July 23rd.  If Parliament were to dissolve itself in the next couple of weeks, the election could be held as soon as the end of April or the beginning of May.

Again ZEC must be consulted [section 144(3) of the Constitution].  It is very doubtful if ZEC could have the voters roll ready so early.

And without an accurate voters roll the elections, whenever they are held, will not be credible or acceptable

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