Sunday, April 13, 2008

Run off delay fears

From the IWPR website:


Mugabe’s critics fear he may be planning to use the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to extend the deadline for a re-run – and thereby prolong his presidency – from 21 to 90 days. One pretext he might use is that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission does not have the funds to run another ballot so soon. ...

Wilbert Mandinde, legal officer for the Zimbabwean branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, said cabinet ministers held their posts by virtue of being members of parliament, and now that new legislators had been elected, restoring the powers of the previous government was illegal.

“Mugabe has recalled them illegally. He has recalled them as what? Some of them lost in the parliamentary elections,” said Mandinde, adding, “He looks like someone who has something under his sleeve.”

In a statement justifying the decision, information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said, “Cabinet ministers are still in office until a new cabinet is announced, to allow for the smooth running of government, implementation of polices and accountability.”

Mugabe’s decision was also supported by Patrick Chinamasa, one of the cabinet members he recalled. Chinamasa, the minister for justice, legal and parliamentary affairs, lost his seat to the MDC in the parliamentary elections. Ndlovu also failed to win a seat.

Chinamasa told journalists on April 9 that it was constitutional for the cabinet to remain in place until a new president is sworn in.

Apart from Chinamasa and Ndlovu, six other ministers failed to win seats in the election. Under a constitutional amendment, the president can appoint five non-legislators to the cabinet...

“The problem with Zimbabwe’s constitution is that we have a president with absolute power – a president who can even control the release of results,” he said. “Even though we now have members of parliament, their first sitting requires the proclamation of the president. Mugabe can go as long as six months before calling for a parliament sitting.”

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