Zimbabwe general elections set for 23 August

SANF 23 no 10 – By Clarkson Mambo

Zimbabwe will hold harmonized elections on 23 August to elect the President, parliamentarians, and councillors.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the date in a proclamation that also set the date for the nomination court as 21 June, and if necessary, a presidential run-off on 2 October.

“And whereas, in terms of Section 158 (1) (a) of the Constitution, a general election must be held so that polling takes place not more than 30 days before the expiry of the five-year period, now therefore, under and by virtue of the powers vested in the President as aforesaid, I do, by this proclamation fix the 23rd day of August 2023 as the day of the election to the office of President, the election of the National Assembly and the election of councillors,” President Mnangagwa said in the declaration made on 31 May 2023.

Zimbabwe conducts general elections once every five years, with the last election held in 2018.

The proclamation opens the election period, allowing political parties to start holding campaign rallies and other stakeholders including the media and civil society to conduct their election related duties in line with their mandates.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has expressed readiness to hold the elections and is undertaking processes such as voter registration, inspection of the voters roll as well as voter education.

“The Commission is satisfied that its preparations are well on course and is ready to discharge its mandate in accordance with the law,” the ZEC chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba said.

Political parties in the country are preparing for the plebiscite, with the party in government, Zanu PF having already selected its candidates for the elections through primary elections while the main opposition, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), is still in the process of selecting candidates.

ZEC estimated that at least six million people had been registered to vote this year.

President Mnangagwa will be seeking a second term in office, while Nelson Chamisa of the CCC is the main challenger. There are several other candidates from smaller parties who have expressed interest in running for the Office of the President.

To qualify to run in presidential elections in Zimbabwe, a candidate must be a registered voter who should be aged at least 40 years.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the election of 350 Members of Parliament. Parliament consists of the National Assembly and the Senate which are made up of 270 and 80 Members of Parliament respectively.

A person must be a registered voter and at least 21 years old and 40 years old respectively to be elected into the National Assembly and the Senate.

The Nomination Court for the presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections will sit on 21 June to receive the names of those who are contesting in the elections.

ZEC has set the nomination fees for presidential aspirants at US$20,000, US$1,000 for Members of Parliament and US$200 for councillors.

Since independence in 1980, Zanu PF has dominated the elections, and only saw its dominance being threatened only once in 2008 when Zimbabwe established a government of national unity, which was made up of the top three political parties at the time.

After the 2018 general elections, the government established a platform called the Political Actors Dialogue made up of leaders of opposition parties which plays an advisory function on political and socio-economic matters. The CCC did not join the platform.

Zimbabwe is one of four SADC Member States holding general elections this year. The others are the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Kingdom of Eswatini and Madagascar.

Mozambique will hold local government elections on 11 October this year, while the national and provincial elections are set for the last quarter of next year.

In preparation for the Zimbabwean elections, institutions related to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have visited Zimbabwe to assess preparedness.

The first to visit was the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) in April, followed in May by the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC (ECF-SADC) – an independent organization comprising of election management bodies in the region.

The SEAC is mandated to advise SADC Member States on matters pertaining to elections, democracy, and good governance, while the ECF-SADC seeks to support its members who are national election commissions and encourage the establishment of independent and impartial Electoral Commissions in the region as well as the development and promotion of a democratic culture and an environment conducive to the holding of free, fair and credible elections.

The two SADC institutions are expected to send election observers to Zimbabwe, in addition to the main regional observer mission, the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM). sardc.net

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