President Mugabe Unilaterally Declares Zimbabwe Poll Date

Ignoring protests from his coalition partners and Zimbabwean citizens, President Robert Mugabe has unilaterally declared 31 July, 2013 as the date the country will hold elections.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been in a coalition government with President Robert Mugabe since 2009, says he will not accept the date.

Political parties have been pushing for a later date since last month when the Constitutional Court ordered Robert Mugabe to hold elections by July 31 following a successful application by Jealousy Mawarire, Director of the Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa (CEDSA). Five main opposition parties immediately protested the time-frame set by the court arguing that more time was needed to implement major electoral reforms to guarantee a free and fair election.

President Robert Mugabe will be the second oldest presidential candidate in Africa. Photo released to the public domain by the U.S. federal government.

President Robert Mugabe will be the second oldest presidential candidate in Africa. Photo released to the public domain by the U.S. federal government.

However, a human rights activist Nixon Nyikadzino has filed an application with the Constitutional Court seeking to compel President Robert Mugabe to proclaim an election date after complying with the constitutional requirements. He argues that it is legally and constitutionally impossible to hold elections by July 31, 2013 without infringing his rights.

Immediately after the announcement, Zimbabweans took to Twitter to express their reactions.

Conor Walsh (@ConorMWalsh) pointed out that it was Mugabe who “ordered the court to order”:

@ConorMWalsh: @Mavhure @DrMupakati Gushungo [Gushungo is President Mugabe’s totem] will enforce Court order because seasoned observers know it is the order Gushungo ordered the Court to order.

Busie Bhebhe (@BusieBhebhe) posted:

@BusieBhebhe: @hoperuswa @zenzele I hope he invents a voting machine that cannot be manipulated since he will be free from politics

Nqaba Matshazi (@nqabamatshazi) asked:

@nqabamatshazi: Is the declaration of an election by Mugabe an act of brinksmanship, or a calculated gamble?

NewsDay Editor Consta Chimakure (@cchimakure) noted that Mugabe bypassed the parliament:

@cchimakure: Mugabe used presidential powers to amend electoral act and proclaim election date bypassing parly

Crisis Coalition (@crisiscoalition) explained the legal basis of the announcement:

@crisiscoalition: Mugabe used the Presidential Temporary Powers to choose a date,Presidential Powers (Temp Measures Amendment of Electoral Act) Regulations'13

mandlenkosi mpofu (@mdutshwa) asked:

@mdutshwa: @nqabamatshazi @NcubeNjabulo is this a bluff or is he for real? cant say whether its arrogance or confidence

Stanley Kwenda (@stanleykwenda) reported:

@stanleykwenda: PM (Prime Minister Morgan)Tsvangirai goes to court to overturn Mugabe proclamation & urges claim among Zim's

Finally, Marko Phiri, blogging at Kubatana blog, asked, “Democracy, what democracy?”:

One certain thing about this latest declaration is that it entrenches apathetic attitudes to electoral processes as some say if Mugabe can unilaterally call for polls despite Tsvangirai’s own earlier declaration that he holds the keys to elections, what is to stop him (Mugabe) from declaring himself a winner in the elections, or as he did in 2008 refuse to accept defeat.

Yet that should be motivation enough for Zimbabweans who have heeded the call to register and also check the voters roll to exercise their franchise to the fullest and show the power mongers who is in charge, or else attempting to kick Zanu PF in the butt will equate to just another fool’s errand.
Look who’s laughing now. Democracy, what democracy?


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