HARARE – The ruling Zanu PF is increasingly getting confident at the prospect of President Robert Mugabe calling for early elections to catch his rivals flat-footed, apparently ignoring the election commission which has said it will only be ready for the vote between June and August.
Speaking to the Daily News on the sidelines of the commencement of the voter registration exercise at State House last week, Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo said nothing is being left to the discretion of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
“No, no, we don’t leave it to Zec, we leave it to the president. We just want to be ready so that whenever he says he wants elections, we are ready. My business is to make sure that people are ready. Whenever he says, even next week, we are ready. Next year, we are ready. Ready, ready, ready, ready,” Chombo said.
Chombo urged Zanu PF officials to stand ready for elections anytime.
“We are going cell by cell to make sure that all our cell members are registered. We are moving. We are ready,” he added.
With the country’s opposition parties — numbering up to 40 — haggling over a mooted grand coalition, it has been said, and not denied, that the country could go for a snap election as early as March next year.
But Zec deputy chair, Emmanuel Magade, told the Daily News last week that while the president is the only one who proclaims the election date, they were looking at holding polls between June and August 2018.
“As far as we are concerned, it’s a question of speculation (that there would be early polls). We can’t read the crystal ball and say the elections will be held such and such a day until a proclamation is issued by the president.
Look, my answer to you is that elections will be held between June and August. So once the registration process is complete by the end of the year or early next year, then we will be ready,” said Magade.
“The announcement of the election date is the constitutional prerogative of the State president, taking obviously into consideration the nation’s State of preparedness, for example, the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise, the verification of the voters’ roll and the availability of election-related resources. That being the case, any talk at this point in time of elections in January, February, March or whenever is beyond the jurisdiction of Zec. My personal comment is that it is mere speculation and conjecture, which has nothing to do with Zec,” he added.
For the first time, Zimbabwe will use the BVR exercise to determine who votes in next year’s elections.