The Police Protection Unit has withdrawn its officers who were guarding Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono’s residence, The Standard was told yesterday.
REPORT BY MOSES CHIBAYA
Sources said the officers, who were providing 24-hour security at Gono’s mansion in Borrowdale, were withdrawn in March when the central bank boss was away on business and repeated efforts to have them reinstated drew the make-or-break polls can be held.
Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have insisted that the elections be held in accordance with a Constitutional Court ruling which said they must be held by July 31.
Mugabe told reporters in Japan last week that he would consult the Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa before telling “others when we think elections within, now the time frame given to us, can be held and we will announce the day.”
But MDC-T and MDC formations argue that elections should only be carried out once all the processes dictated by the new Constitution are completed.
These processes include, among other things, a mandatory 30-day voter registration exercise, inspection of the voter’s roll and the sitting of the nomination court.
The MDC formations are also demanding that outstanding reforms on the security sector, media and electoral laws be made to enable a level playing field for the polls.
Sources said the meeting was going to be a very difficult one because both Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s political lives depended on these elections.
The MDC-T is aware that an election that is held without a levelled playing field would be skewed in favour of Zanu PF. The party is therefore now pinning its hopes of having key reforms before next month’s harmonised elections on Sadc as the guarantor of the global political agreement (GPA).
The party’s secretary-general Tendai Biti on Friday told The Standard that his party expected the regional body to ensure key reforms were made before July 31.
Biti, who is also the Finance minister in the shaky coalition government, also hoped the on-going inter-party talks between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations would result in the dates for elections being pushed further to allow for the implementation of reforms.
“This thing [GPA] is guaranteed by Sadc, this thing is guaranteed by the African Union. We are all going to be bound by Sadc,” Biti said. He added: “We spent the whole of yesterday [Thursday] before the facilitators [Sadc] and we in fact agreed on certain things that need to be done, such as voter registration, and then followed by voter inspection, then notice of the election dates and campaign period.”
Biti said there was no way the July 31 deadline would be achieved if the issues were to be addressed as required by the law.
“But I have absolutely no doubt that after the summit and the discussions, sanity will prevail,” said MDC-T secretary-general.
The parties in the unity government last week met South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team, which was in the country to assess Zimbabwe’s preparedness for elections.
Sadc last week postponed indefinitely a summit that was scheduled for today in Maputo, Mozambique after Zanu PF indicated that it needed more time to study the implications of the Constitutional Court ruling.
But a senior Zanu PF official, Paul Mangwana told a public meeting hosted by Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe last week that his party would not listen to Sadc but would abide by the Supreme Court ruling.
“Sadc is not a court. They have no right to make an order; it’s only the court that can make an order,” said Mangwana.
But Biti said it was not possible to comply with the date because there should be a mandatory minimum 30-day period for voter registration, followed by one month voter inspection, then another 45 days’ notice.
Biti said the Constitution was gazetted on May 22 and if voter registration started the following day, the 30 days will then expire on June 23.
“When it [voter registration] expires on June 23, let us assume that the proclamation will then be made on June 24, the nomination court can only sit within 14 days after proclamation so you add 14 days to June 24, that will get you to July 7th or 8th,” said Biti.
MORE TIME NEEDED
The constitution prescribed that, [Tendai] Biti said, between the sitting of the nomination court and the time of election there has to be an unfettered 30 days.
“That is 30 days of campaigning and that will get you to August 7th or 8th. So with great respect the Constitutional Court passed an unconstitutional judgement,” he said.