Elections Will Be Earlier Than You Expect: Charamba Issues Another Warning
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba has said that the 2018 elections will be held sooner that people are expecting. The exact same sentiments were also expressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa himself last month. In an interview on a local station, Charamba said:
Look people are serious. We are worried about what to do by way of ameliorating the conditions of the people of Zimbabwe. We are worrying about elections which will come sooner than you guys will ever expect.
However, when he was asked to elaborate by the Zimbabwe Independent, later on, Charamba refused to be more specific about the timeline saying:
Elections will be held when President Mnangagwa makes the proclamation. Hakusi kuona Kuti wakundiomesera here munin’ina. (Can’t you see that you are making it very difficult for me, my brother) That is up to the president.
In another interview, Caramba had claimed that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had called for a delay in elections because an early election would result in a Zanu-PF landslide. Said Charamba:
… But the president and the vice presidents are riding high on the change that happened in November. If we are to go for elections, it would be a whitewash. It is the opposition that wants to buy time as it would be in their interest.
And since their leader has hinted on handing over power, if it’s before elections, it means they would need a new leader to give him a profile, so time is not on their side.
Charamba’s boss, President Mnangagwa made the same sentiments last year. Addressing the ruling Zanu-PF’s Central Committee meeting in December last year, Mnangagwa cryptically announced,
These elections are nearer than what you expect.
As for the 2018 elections government will make sure that they are free, fair and credible.
An early election is likely to favour President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF as the party has massive goodwill following the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa came to power in November after the Zimbabwe Defence Forces launched a military intervention codenamed Operation Restore Legacy which ultimately resulted in Mugabe stepping down after 37 years as Head of State. Zimbabweans from all walks of life and from different political parties were united in calling for Mugabe to step down. This resulted in Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces getting goodwill and acclaim from urbanites, who are traditionally supporters of the opposition.
Exploring the possibility of an early election back in August, legal experts, Veritas said:
A Possible Timetable for a 3rd March Election
If the rationale for an early election is for an already prepared ZANU-PF to make things as difficult as possible for all other parties and/or coalitions, a fast-as-possible election programme would make sense [i.e. with as few delays as feasible between proclamation and polling]. Hence the suggestions of an early March election.
The earliest day in March 2018 for elections would be Saturday 3rd March[elections are normally held on a Saturday.] This would mean that the dissolution vote in Parliament would have to be no earlier than 4th December 2017 [because, as already noted, there must not be more than 90 days between the vote and the election]. And the election proclamation following the vote could not be later than 18th January 2018 [because under section 157(3) of the Constitution there must not be less than 44 days between the proclamation of an election and polling day].
On this basis a fast timetable for polling on Saturday 3rd March 2018would be:-
The vote for dissolution: Between 4th December 2017 and 16th January 2018[the day before the latest possible date for the election proclamation].
The Presidential Proclamation of the Dissolution of Parliament: any time after the vote for dissolution and before or on same day as Proclamation of Elections
Presidential Proclamation of Elections: Thursday 18th January 2018 [Section 157(3) of the Constitution stipulates at least 44 days from proclamation date to polling date.]
Nomination date: Thursday 1st February 2018 [must be at least 14 days after the Proclamation: section 157(3) of the Constitution]
Polling date: Saturday 3rd March 2018