Zimbabwe Sets Date For Elections

A circulating draft constitution was accepted by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. However, President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has listed a slate of problems it has with the document.

The two sides, and a smaller breakaway faction of the MDC, are arguing over presidential powers and political and civil rights, including homosexuality laws and dual citizenship.

The three parties have been in a fragile coalition government since 2009, in a deal brokered by neighbouring countries following violent elections the previous year.

Mugabe, 88, has been at the helm of the southern African nation since 1980 and has pledged to run again. The country must legally hold elections by June.

The country is also in need of a by-election, with over 200 seats in parliament and local government vacant. But Zanu-PF officials say the state lacks the funds to hold polls to fill the posts.

“It would not make sense to have an election now and then a general election in March,” Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, an ally of Mugabe, told reporters.

“Besides that, we have a (constitutional) referendum in November.”

Commenting on the proposed dates of elections and referendum, MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “We were never consulted about that. We remain to see how possible it is to have a referendum in November when we still have issues.” – Sapa-dpa