INDEPENDENT election watchdog Election Resource Centre (ERC has warned of possible breach of laws guiding the existing legality that monitors the plebiscite process should President Emmerson Mnangagwa delay the proclamation of polling dates.
In a statement, ERC raised red flags over a possible risk of breaching statutes contained in Section 158 of the Constitution.
According to section 158 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, a general election must be held so that polling takes place not more than thirty days before the expiry of the five-year period which runs from the date on which the President-elect is sworn in and assumes office.
Mnangagwa was sworn in on 26 August 2018.
“The thirty-day period before the expiry of the Presidential term runs from 27 July – 26 August 2023,” ERC said.
Further, according to section 38 of the Electoral Act, the President must fix a date for a general election and elections for Councillors, Members of Parliament and the President, after consultation with the Commission.
“The proclamation must take into consideration, the Nomination Court which must sit at least fourteen and not more than twenty-one days after the day of publication of the proclamation for the purpose of receiving nominations of candidates for election,” said ERC.
The proclamation must also factor in the aspect of a polling day which must be held at least thirty and not more than sixty-three days after the sitting of the nomination court.
“Taking into account the timelines for the sitting of the nomination court and the possible election dates between 27 July 2023 – 26 August 2023 the President may only make a proclamation between any of the following dates 4 May 2023 – 13 July 2023.”
According to ERC, while, the authority to proclaim an election date is vested in the President of Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa is guided by the aforementioned timelines and must consult the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before proclaiming.