BY LIVINGSTONE MTETWA
TAKING into account the timelines for the sitting of the nomination court and the possible election dates between 27 July 2023 and 26 August 2023, the President of Zimbabwe is constitutionally mandated to make a proclamation of electoral dates between 4 May 2023 and 13 July 2023.
According to section 38 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, a general election (harmonised election) must be held so that polling takes place not more than 30 days before the expiry of the five year period which runs from the date on which the President-elect was sworn in and assumed office.
President ED Mnangagwa was sworn in on 26 August 2018. The 30-day window period before the expiry of the presidential term runs from 27 July to 26 August 2023.
The Electoral Act on the same section denotes that, the President must fix a date for a general election and elections for councillors, Members of Parliament and the President after consultation with the commission.
The proclamation must take into consideration the factor of the Nomination Court which must sit at least 14 and not more than 21 days after the day of publication of the proclamation for the purpose of receiving nominations of candidates for election.
The President shall fix a place or places and day or days, at least 14 and not more than 21 days of publication, on which a nomination court shall sit for purposes of receiving nominations of candidates and a day or days, at least 30 and not more than 63 days after the nomination day or last nomination day, on which a poll shall be takes place.
Hence, from the date of nomination to date of election, the election date must be within 63 days, which is just over two months, unless of course section 38 is amended to provide for lesser or longer duration. Take for instance, if the date of proclamation of the election is the 31st of May 2023, then elections must be held at most by August 2 2023.
While the authority to proclaim an election date is vested on the President of Zimbabwe, the leader is guided by aforementioned timelines and must consult the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before proclaiming.
In terms of Section 158 of the Constitution, elections must be held not more than 30 days before the expiry of the five year term of office of the President. This means that the elections must be held at least 30 days before the date the President was inaugurated in the previous term.
Elections are drawing nearer in Zimbabwe. As a constitutional and non-negotiable process, citizens are excited to participate in this national activity.