Monday, June 17, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Breaking News: Mugabe says polls on July 31
13/06/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe fast-tracked changes to electoral laws on Thursday, using a presidential decree to by-pass parliament in a bid to comply with a constitutional court order to hold elections by July 31.

"Given the deadline imposed by the Constitutional Court, it is inexpedient to await the passage through Parliament of an act dealing with the situation," Mugabe said in an official government notice.

The amended electoral laws ensure that all political parties have access to the state broadcaster and that the results of elections will be posted outside polling centres.

But Mugabe’s move enraged his opponents in the fractious unity government with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai accusing the Zanu PF leader of precipitating a “constitutional crisis”.

Tsvangirai had warned Mugabe against using the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to effectively by-pass Parliament and fast-track electoral amendments which were agreed by Cabinet on Tuesday. But that is exactly what the Zanu PF leader did.

The MDC-T chief had also insisted that Mugabe could not proclaim an election date without consulting him and securing his consent.
In a statement Thursday Tsvangirai conceded that he had been denied that “courtesy”.

Mugabe informed the premier of his intentions in a letter dated June 13, 2013 in which he said he was merely complying with the Constitutional Court order to hold elections by July 31.

Tsvangirai had insisted that the polls should be delayed to allow for more reforms while Mugabe says all the necessary reforms have been implemented and wanted the elections to immediately follow the end on Parliament on June 29.

The ruling by the Constitutional Court ordering the elections to be held before the end of next month following an application by a Harare-based political activist appeared to resolve the dispute in Mugabe’s favour.

But Tsvangirai said he would challenge Mugabe’s decision in the courts as well as seek help from the SADC regional grouping which is meeting in Maputo, Mozambique this weekend to discuss the elections.

“I have clearly reflected on the matter and this morning, to defend the Constitution, I instructed my attorneys to file an urgent court application. In addition, I will be leaving tomorrow for SADC and will fully brief the regional leaders on the crisis in Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai said Thursday.

“It is also disturbing to note that it was President Mugabe himself who caused SADC to postpone the summit that was supposed to be held on Sunday the 9th of June 2013.

“It is now clear that President Mugabe called for the postponement in order to go to SADC with a done deal of an election date. Thus, clearly, President Mugabe has sought to render the forthcoming SADC summit a dead rubber and a talk show.

“This is clearly dishonest and disrespectful of the esteemed leaders of SADC, the AU, President Zuma and our brothers and sisters on the African continent.”

See copy of June 13th letter from President Mugabe to Prime Minister Tsvangirai here.

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