- Last Updated on 28 February 2013
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MDC-N leader and Minister of Industry and Commerce, Prof. Welshman Ncube has openly spoken on the possible date for the forthcoming harmonized elections, arguing that the implementation matrix of a gamut of reforms favours a September date.
Prof. Ncube who is also a Political Principal in the Inclusive Government was addressing leaders of civil society at an Interface Forum organized by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) at its head offices in Harare on Wednesday, February 27, 2013.
Ncube contradicted the Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who, at a previous Interface Forum unequivocally stated that elections would be held in July 2013.
Ncube said the July date was likely to mean that the run-off would be held in August, thereby coinciding with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Assembly which Zimbabwe expects to co-host with its northern neighbour Zambia later in August 2013.
"When the President proclaims the elections he must pronounce the date of the run-off and that must be 28 days after the first round of elections.
"If you have the elections in July, a run-off date will be in August and that would coincide with the UNWTO conference.
"Unless you are very impractical, or you are a gambler, you can not proclaim a July date, € said Ncube.
Ncube revealed that Zanu-Pf wanted elections as soon as possible "like they have always said in the past €, while the MDC-T reasoned that if the elections are held after the UNWTO conference, there is a likelihood of violence erupting.
"The MDC-T thinks that if the elections are held before the UNWTO Assembly, ZANU-PF will fear losing the hosting of the event, but you may see for yourself, which of the two is ZANU-Pf afraid of losing? The UNWTO Assembly or power? €
"The other argument of the MDC-T is that after 29 June the government will be illegal, € said the Industry and Commerce Minister.
Ncube suggested that the process of adopting the new constitution and aligning the electoral Act with the new Charter was not something that could happen overnight.
He told civil society leaders that his experience with negotiation showed that there would be more than a month of haggling between the parties which could also delay the elections.
Ncube drew up a scenario where if the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) loses its Supreme Court bid to postpone the referendum penciled for March 16 and the Copac Draft Constitution is adopted by a Yes Vote, the timelines would still point to the feasibility of a September date.
"The law provides that the new constitution be gazetted for 30 days.
"Let's assume you have it on 18 March and Parliament passes it quickly and you have a new constitution by early May, the draft Constitution requires that you must do a mobile voter registration for a minimum of 30 days and that will take you to May 30.
"Let's assume the elections are announced on the 1st of May, the law says you need not less than 58 days between the date of proclamation and the election date which will take us to end of July, € Ncube said.
Ncube said the adoption of the new constitution would mean that the electoral laws would need to be amended to rope in the new electoral system of proportional representation and 'zebra' allocation of seats and amendment of the Urban Councils Act to factor in the issue of directly elected Mayors.
He added: "You can factor-in a month or so where there will be haggling over electoral amendments.
"That's why we have advocated for a September election because the government will be lawful until 27 September because elections must be done within 90 days after June 29, € said Ncube.
The MDC-N leader said it remained to be seen whether "reason will triumph over emotion € in an apparent reference to the choice of an election date made by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party.
Commenting on the referendum date, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director McDonald Lewanika said the entire civil society was not happy with the proclaimed date.
"It's not just Madhuku. All of us feel that the time given between now and the referendum is too little. €
Ncube said it was correct for civil society to argue that they should have been given enough time, saying "on this one, I would not plead guilty as it was a decision of the government principals rather than the political principals. €
Ncube however argued that the NCA's Supreme Court application to have the referendum date pushed further than March 16 was doomed to fail.
"It would take an activist judge to grant Madhuku's application. Particularly, when there is consensus among the principals that we should have elections as soon as possible. €