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Why it is not possible for Zimbabwe to have elections in March

On this basis a fast timetable for polling on Saturday 3rd March 2018 would be:-

•             The vote for dissolution: Between 4th December 2017 and 16th January 2018 [the day before the latest possible date for the election proclamation].

•             The Presidential Proclamation of the Dissolution of Parliament: any time after the vote for dissolution and before or on same day as Proclamation of Elections

•             Presidential Proclamation of Elections: Thursday 18th January 2018  [Section 157(3) of the Constitution stipulates at least 44 days from proclamation date to polling date.]

•             Nomination date: Thursday 1st February 2018  [must be at least 14 days after the Proclamation:  section 157(3) of the Constitution]

•             Polling date: Saturday 3rd March 2018

Could ZEC Deliver a March Election?

The stark fact is that at the moment there are no up-to-date voters rolls. 

Any discussion of voters rolls in Zimbabwe is inevitably coloured by the fact that ever since it became responsible for voter registration in 2013, ZEC has been and is still defaulting on its statutory obligation to conduct voter registration “on a continuous basis so as to keep the voters rolls up-to-date” [Electoral Act, section 17A].  The only registration of first-time voters since 2013 has been in the relatively few constituencies and wards in which there have been by-elections. 

ZEC has consistently said that it intends to produce a completely new voters roll and will use Biometric Voter Registration [BVR] to do so – but the exercise has not yet started.  ZEC has given an assurance that the country-wide exercise will be completed by the end of this year or just into January next year.  They have said they will then take eight weeks to complete the cleaning up, de-duplication, compilation and printing of the voters roll.  And then they have allowed four weeks for the printed roll to be inspected.  This means that ZEC could, but only just, be ready with a new voter roll in April next year, in time for a May proclamation for elections in July/August 2018  – but not in time for a March election.

But: the new BVR voters roll will not be completed and ready for use for a general election in March

ZEC Must Make Existing Voter Roll Available

As it is doubtful if ZEC could withstand any pressure to hold a March election:-

ZEC should make alternative arrangements in case an early election is called and must not leave a last-minute situation in which we neither have a new BVR voters roll nor an updated and cleaned up existing voters roll open to inspection.

Conclusion

This bulletin is very much based on an unknown situation – whether an early election will be called.  But there is one certainty amid all the other uncertainties:  that without a completely credible voters roll, whether a new one or an updated, cleaned up and inspected existing one, there cannot be a credible election next year, whether in March or any other month,

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