BY BLESSED MHLANGA/ VENERANDA LANGA
Mnangagwa announced the date through an extraordinary Government Gazette.
“Fix, Monday July 30, 2018, as the day of the election of the Office of President, the election if members of the National Assembly and election of councillors that is as the day on which a poll shall be taken if a poll becomes necessary” the proclamation read in part.
In his proclamation, Mnangagwa also set aside September 8, as the date for the presidential run-off in the event that is no outright winner in the first round of the polls.
MDC-T leader, Nelson Chamisa, through his spokesperson, Luke Tambarinyoka said his party was ready for the polls provided that crucial electoral reforms are implemented.
“We are ready for elections any day, but it is about the quality of that election. We have raised issues to do with reforms, to do with ballot printing and auditing of the voters’ roll, among other issues and these have not been dealt with. We must have an uninterrupted path in our return to legitimacy and that can only happen after a credible election. Zimbabwe can’t be open for business when it is closed for a credible election,” he said.
The party is still battling chaos caused by the primary elections and the MDC-T has insisted that an election will not happen in Zimbabwe if the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and Mnangagwa do not give in to their demands, which they claim are a precursor to a free, fair and credible election.
The Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T faction spokesperson, Linda Masarira also said they were ready for the polls.
“We are ready for these polls, and as we speak, we are finalising our candidates’ list, which will be out next week”.
National Patriotic Front (NPF) spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire said Mnangagwa had acted within the confines of the law.
“We have always believed that as long as elections are proclaimed within the constitutional provisions for time-frame, we are okay with it because that’s what we have been planning for,” he said.
The announcement ends speculation on the election dates, and marks the opening of the election period, where Zec takes control of media monitoring and political parties officially start campaigns for the election.
The Election Resource Centre said: “The proclamation is noted as fully complying with the law. As such, the actions by the President should trigger serious independent, transparent and accountable preparations for the holding of the polls compared to what we have been seeing in the past.
“The credibility of the 2018 election is increasingly coming down to how independently, transparently and accountably the remaining electoral processes will be administered. The caution remains that Zimbabwe does not hold elections just for the purpose of fulfilling a constitutional obligation. There should be a genuine effort at ensuring that a freely cast vote is administered in a manner that guarantees that the outcome faces little to no dispute. While no perfect election has ever been conducted anywhere, it remains possible to drastically reduce potential areas of dispute to improve the credibility, freeness and fairness of the 2018 polls.”
However, Glen View South MP, Fani Munengami (MDC-T) yesterday said it was illegal for Mnangagwa to proclaim election dates, when Zec has not yet finalised the voters’ roll.
Munengami raised the issue as a point of order in the National Assembly, before acting Speaker of the National Assembly Rueben Marumahoko intervened and said the question would better be addressed by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who was not in the House yesterday.