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General elections are scheduled to be held in Zimbabwe on July 30, 2018. The purpose of the election is to elect the President and members of both houses of Parliament that is the lower house Legislative assembly' and the upper house the Senate.


Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed the election date on 29 May 2018.[1]


Contents

Constitutional provision

The polling date is determined by what the Constitution says about the duration of Parliament.

The maximum five-year term of the current Parliament ends at midnight on August 21st, 2018. Section 158 states that a general election must be held so that polling takes place not more than thirty days before the expiry of the five-year term of Parliament, i.e. not before July 23rd.


The last date for polling is based on Constitution section 144 which states that the last dates for polling must be before Parliament’s term ends, i.e. polling cannot be later than August 21st.

Procedure

Gazetting of Presidential Proclamation of a General Election

The President still has the prerogative of deciding the exact date to proclaim elections but must allow the number of days fixed by the Constitution and the Electoral Act between proclamation and polling day.

The Proclamation calling an election must be not less than 44 and not more than 84 days before the polling day chosen [Constitution section 157(3) and section 38 of the Electoral Act]. This means


Nomination Day

When the President has decided the polling day and proclamation day, the day for nomination can be fixed. Nomination day is the day on which candidates have to take their papers to a nomination court. There must be a minimum period of 14 days, and a maximum of 21days, from proclamation to nomination day [Constitution section 157(3) and Electoral Act section 38].

[Note: There must be a minimum of 30 days from nomination date to polling date and a maximum of 63 days]


The Voters Roll

Ideally, this should be ready before nomination day as candidates have to be nominated [i.e. endorsed] by registered voters who should have checked that their names on the voters roll – i.e. the new BVR roll.

The Electoral Act [section 21(4)] states that, within a reasonable period of time after the proclamation calling an election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ ZEC] must provide political parties and observers on request with a copy of the voters roll to be used in the election.

The President Must Consult with ZEC

As ZEC must have the voters roll ready and all necessary steps in place for a free and fair election, the following provision in the Constitution is important:

Section 144(3) of the Constitution lays down that the dates for the election must be fixed by the President “after consultation with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission”. Section 339(2) explains that this means ZEC must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to make recommendations or representations about proposed dates and that the President must give careful consideration to any such recommendations and representations, although he is not obliged to follow them. The need for this consultation with ZEC is repeated in section 38(1) of the Electoral Act.

Suggestions of an Early Election After Dissolution of Parliament

The dissolution of Parliament will occur automatically in terms of section 143(1) of the Constitution, which provides as follows—

“Parliament stands dissolved at midnight on the day before the first polling day in the next general election called in terms of section 144”.

But although the Constitution no longer allows the President to dissolve Parliament at will and provides that normally Parliament should serve out its five-year term, Parliament does have the power to dissolve itself. [Section 143 of the Constitution]

To do this would require the passing, by a least two-thirds of the current members of the National Assembly and the Senate, sitting separately, of resolutions to dissolve Parliament [section 143(2)]

Electoral system

The President of Zimbabwe is elected using the two-round system.

The 270 members of the House of Assembly consist of 210 members elected in single-member constituencies and 60 women elected by proportional representation in ten six-seat constituencies based on the country's provinces. Voters cast a single vote, which is counted for both forms of election.The 80 members of the Senate include 60 members elected from ten six-member constituencies (also based on the provinces) by proportional representation using party lists; the lists must have a woman at the top and alternate between men and women.The other 20 seats include two reserved for people with disabilities and 18 for traditional chiefs.

Presidential candidates

References

  1. Full Text: Mnangagwa Proclaims Election Date – Elections To Be Held On July 30, 2018, Pindula News, published: May 29, 2018, retrieved: June 12, 2018

References