Tendai Kamhungira 12 July 2017
HARARE – Notwithstanding the rumpus in their camp over the lack of
progress in consummating a coalition, opposition parties have said they
are prepared for next year’s synchronised polls, even if President Robert
Mugabe is to proclaim election dates earlier than expected.
Mugabe is expected to proclaim election dates much earlier than had been
expected to capitalise on the confusion within the opposition movement,
while at the same time riding on the wave of popularity captured in recent
With opposition political parties haggling over who should lead their
mooted grand coalition, Zanu PF is removing all the stops in its bid to
retain power at the 2018 elections.
Mugabe’s party has resisted reforms that could have levelled the electoral
playing field, and has maintained its stranglehold on the State media,
which it uses at its propaganda machinery.
Regardless, opposition political parties told the Daily News yesterday
that they are more than prepared for the elections.
The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC said they are on the ground and are as
prepared as ever for the elections.
“The MDC is a massive political party that is always on the ground every
time and everywhere. We have got structures all over the country and we
are ready to give Zanu PF a thorough thrashing at next year’s polls,” MDC
spokesperson, Obert Gutu, said yesterday.
Gutu, however, said that they will push all eligible Zimbabweans to
register to vote, adding that they are confident that the majority will
vote against Zanu PF.
“We are acutely aware of the fact that the Zanu PF dictatorship will
never, ever reform itself out of power but our push for electoral reforms
remains determined and relentless. Zanu PF is deeply fractured and
factionalised and indeed, there are better chances of Obert Gutu falling
pregnant than Zanu PF’s chances of winning elections next year,” Gutu
The smaller MDC faction led by Welshman Ncube is also exuding confidence
ahead of the elections.
“The MDC structures are ready to roll in the event … Mugabe calls for
elections. A torrid time is in store for Mugabe and Zanu PF,” the party’s
spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi, said yesterday.
The Zanu PF youth league has since set the party’s campaign machine
rolling with the ongoing youth interface rallies attracting bumper crowds
for Mugabe, who wants to extend his rule at the helm of government beyond
the current 37 years.
With Zanu PF seemingly covering ground ahead of the elections, Tendai
Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said that the political situation
requires the opposition to always be ready for an election.
“We are at a stage where we as opposition have to be ready for an election
any time because the country cannot go on like this. This country has
always called elections in an irregular manner and we have always beat
“If they call it now, their record in government has been so bad even
their own wives would not vote for them,” PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume
Joice Mujuru’s National People Party (NPP) said they were ready on all
fronts just as good as the Zimbabweans are also ready to go to the polls.
“Mugabe’s stay in power is long overdue. And when we talk of readiness in
terms of the coalition, it is work in progress and I can assure
Zimbabweans, that the coalition is good as done and we are ready for
elections,” Mujuru’s spokesperson, Gift Nyandoro, said.
Section 158 of the Constitution provides that “a general election must be
held so that polling takes place not more than 30 days before the expiry
of the five year period specified in Section 143”.
While expectations were that Mugabe will declare elections between July 23
and August 21, 2018, Zanu PF insiders are convinced that he will make the
proclamation earlier to catch the opposition napping.
In the previous election, Mugabe was forced to proclaim the election dates
after a Harare man, Jealousy Mawarire, approached the Constitutional Court
just a few months before July 31, 2013.
According to Veritas, an organisation that gives information on the work
of courts and Parliament, the president has the prerogative of setting the
date for the general elections, but he must do so within the parameters
fixed by the Constitution and the Electoral Act for polling date and the
length of time between the proclamation and polling.
“Section 157 of the Constitution, stipulates the minimum period from
proclamation to nomination date (14 days), and from nomination date to
polling date (30 days). That is, there has to be a minimum of 44 days
from the proclamation date to polling.
“Section 38 of the Electoral Act stipulates a maximum 84 days between
proclamation and polling. So the proclamation must be not less than 44 and
not more than 84 days before the polling day chosen. Based on the earliest
polling date of July 23, 2018 the proclamation must be gazetted in the
period April 30, to June 9,2018,” Veritas said.
The organisation said that the calling for elections is an executive
function, which does not need the president to consult with the Cabinet.