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Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa  | Coastweek

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 30, 2018. President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Wednesday that Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 30. XINHUA PHOTOS - SHAUN JUSA

Zimbabwe to hold general election on July 30
confirms President Emmerson Mnangagwa

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Wednesday that Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 30.

He made the announcement in a government gazette where he also set June 14 as the date for the sitting of the nomination court for prospective candidates to register.

He set Sept. 8, 2018 as the date for the election runoff in the event that no presidential candidate gets an outright win of 50 percent plus one vote.

In the notice, Mnangagwa said he had fixed "Monday, the 30th day of July, 2018, as the day of the election to the office of President, the election of members of the National Assembly and election of councilors."

The elections will be the first without former President Robert Mugabe and his fierce opponent for 20 years, Morgan Tsvangirai who died in February this year from cancer.

Mugabe resigned in November last year after a military intervention, ending his 37-year stay in power.

The proclamation of the election date comes a day after Mnangagwa signed the Electoral Amendment Bill into law.

The enactment was published in an extraordinary government gazette on Monday night.

The election date also follows the closure of the 11-day provisional voter’s roll inspection on Tuesday.

The new Electoral Act gives effect to the Statutory Instrument on the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) that was undertaken by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) through the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, which had a lifespan of six months.

The law amends some sections of the Electoral Act of 2004 to complete the alignment of certain provisions of that Act with the new Constitution and enhance ZEC’s independence.

It also gives ZEC more control over the accreditation of election observers, authority to allow accredited observers to monitor all electoral processes, and to provide more clearly for polling station voters rolls.

The new Act also makes voters’ rolls more accessible, removes ZEC’s monopoly on the provision of voter education, and obliges ZEC to enact codes of conduct to be observed by traditional leaders, members of the security services and civil servants, among other things.

Mnangagwa has promised to deliver free, fair and credible elections and his government has since invited 46 countries from across the world to observe the general elections.

The observer countries include some from the West that had not observed Zimbabwe’s elections since 2002 when relations with Harare soured.

Since the beginning of the year, several regional groupings in Africa and the European Union, among others, have sent pre-election observer missions to Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa, 75, will face the 40-year-old leader of the opposition MDC-Alliance Nelson Chamisa in the presidential poll.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Zimbabwe Constitutional Court rules out Diaspora vote

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that Zimbabweans living outside the country cannot vote in elections set for July 30 this year.

This comes after some Zimbabweans based in the Diaspora, represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), had brought an application before the court arguing that the new Constitution adopted in 2013 entitled them to vote from outside the country.

But Deputy Chief Justice, Elizabeth Gwaunza, in the presence of the full Constitutional Court bench, said she did not find any merit in the application.

"I found that the application could not succeed. It is ordered that the application is dismissed with no order as to costs," she said.

Belinda Chinowawa of the ZHLR said they were "naturally disappointed" with the verdict.

"We believed that as long as our clients, who are Zimbabwean citizens over the age of 18, who were not convicted of any electoral offences, firmly had a right to vote and that their residence in other countries should not have denied them that right.

"We are disappointed but we will only be able to form a proper opinion after reading the full judgment of the court," she said.

Zimbabwe’s current voting system is polling station based and demands that voters be resident in the country and cast their ballot at a specific polling station allocated in terms of where they reside.

It also allows those on government service outside the country to vote.

Proponents of the Diaspora vote had been arguing that this same right should be extended to those not in government employment but living in the Diaspora.
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Zimbabwe to end voter registration for July 30 elections

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Wednesday voter registration for the July 30 national polls ends on June 1.

ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said changes to the recently promulgated Electoral Act stipulate that voter registration closes two days after proclamation of the election date.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday set July 30, 2018 as the date for national polls to choose the President, National Assembly members and councilors.

"It therefore means that the registration of voters for the purposes of the 2018 harmonized elections shall close on June. 1 2018," she said.

"However those that are going to register after the cut-off date will be considered for future elections," she added.

Voter registration started in September last year and about 5.4 million people have so far registered to vote in the July 30 election.

Chigumba said the two-days until June 1 would afford those who failed to inspect the voters’ roll from May 19 to 29 a chance to do so.

ZEC was ready for the elections whose budget is 198 million U.S. dollars, Chigumba said.

She added that the electoral body had identified regional companies that will supply ballot papers and ink to be used in the voting process.

The electoral body would also provide the final voters’ roll to candidates who will have successfully filed their names to contest in the elections.
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China releases funding for Zimbabwe’s largest power station expansion project

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- China has released funding for Zimbabwe’s largest power station expansion project - the expansion of the Hwange power station, paving way for commencement of work, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed on Thursday.

The release of the funding follows the successful visit to China by Mnangagwa in April.

The project, to be undertaken by Chinese firm Sinohydro, will add 600 megawatts of electricity into the national grid when complete.

Currently, the coal-fired station has six units with an installed capacity of 920 megawatts.

Chinese commercial counselor to Zimbabwe Li Yaohui confirmed the release of the funding.

"We have released 200 million U.S. dollars, the other 800 million dollars will also be released in a short time.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the project is expected to be held in mid-June," Li told Xinhua.

Hwange is the largest coal-fired power station in the country.

It was built in two stages, with the first four units commissioned between 1983 and 1986 while the remaining two were commissioned in 1986 and 1987.

In March this year, Sinohydro completed the 300 megawatts Kariba South Hydro Power expansion project which significantly boosts power supplies in the country that is seeking to revive its economy after nearly two decades of stagnant growth.
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Zimbabwe inches closer to elections, with electoral law amendments

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has signed the Electoral Amendment Bill into law.

The enactment was published in an extraordinary government gazette on Monday night, paving the way for the forthcoming general elections to be held under a new law.

Mnangagwa is now expected to proclaim election dates as soon as the final voters’ roll—which is currently being spruced up—is ready.

The new law gives effect to the Statutory Instrument on the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) that was undertaken by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) through the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, which had a lifespan of six months.

The new law amends some sections of the Electoral Act of 2004 to complete the alignment of certain provisions of that Act with the new Constitution and enhance ZEC’s independence.

It also gives ZEC more control over the accreditation of election observers, authority to allow accredited observers to monitor all electoral processes, and to provide more clearly for polling station voters rolls.

Apart from the government, opposition parties represented in Parliament also submitted proposals on amendments, some of which were taken on board.

The new Act also makes voters’ rolls more accessible; removes ZEC’s monopoly on the provision of voter education, and obliges ZEC to enact codes of conduct to be observed by traditional leaders, members of the security services and civil servants, among other things.

It also establishes an Electoral Court as a division of the High Court, with election petitions expected to be heard within six months following an election, while appeals should be dealt with within three months.

In a separate development, ZEC last week activated the previously suspended provisions of the 2012 Electoral Amendment Act legalizing polling station based voting rather than ward based voting, according to Veritas Zimbabwe.

Veritas is an organization that provides information on the work of the Parliament of Zimbabwe and the laws of the country.

The provisions had not been activated because the Act specified that ZEC first had to be satisfied that voters’ rolls for all polling station areas had been prepared.

According to the law, polling day remains a public holiday.

"It follows that it is not legally necessary for the President to gazette a special statutory instrument to declare polling day a public holiday," said Veritas.
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Zimbabwe and European Union sign agreement on deployment of observers

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Zimbabwe government for the deployment of its election observer mission.

The MOU, signed by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo and European Union ambassador Philippe Van Damme, comes after the Zimbabwe government in March invited the EU to deploy an observation mission for the upcoming harmonized elections set to mid year.

It is the first time since 2002 that the EU will deploy an election observer team to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has invited 46 countries from across the world to observe the general elections.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is yet to proclaim the election date.
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COMESA nods steps taken by Zimbabwe to prepare for general election

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) regional bloc on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over steps taken by authorities in Zimbabwe to prepare for the general elections expected in the next two months.

COMESA, which has just wrapped-up its pre-election assessment mission to Zimbabwe, said it appreciated an atmosphere ahead of elections that allows citizens to freely express themselves on their political choices, their hopes and concerns.

The COMESA observer team also noted the strides made in other areas such as the adoption and successful use of the biometric voter registration kits, the voter verification exercise, including the use of text messages, to inform voters on the location of their polling stations, and efforts by the electoral body to decongest the polling stations during the voting day, according to a statement.

"We have noted the freedom with which the stakeholders and the citizens are expressing themselves and this is a major step forward towards deepening democracy in this country," Ashraf Rashed, the head of the mission, said.

The 19-member regional bloc urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the government to continue to enhance the communications with stakeholders in addressing concerns raised by stakeholders, to increase public confidence in the electoral process and outcome of the elections.

The nine-member COMESA observer team, which conducted a six-day assessment of the situation, held 15 consultations and meetings with various stakeholders and prepared a preliminary report, which was presented to the electoral body and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo, according to the statement.

The report contains draft findings as well as recommendations for improving electoral governance, including issues relating to voter registration, the management of ballot papers and voter rolls, security prior and during elections and media coverage.

According to the statement, the assessment was based on the legal framework governing elections in Zimbabwe and the regional, continental and international standards on the conduct of democratic elections.
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Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe snubs parliament again

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe failed to appear before parliament for the second time on Monday to clarify a statement he made in 2016 that Zimbabwe could have been prejudiced of 15 billion U.S. dollars through diamond revenue leakages.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy initially wanted Mugabe to appear before it on May 9 but postponed this to May 23.

Mugabe did not come on May 23, resulting in parliament postponing the hearing to May 28.

Committee chairperson Themba Mliswa told journalists on Monday that parliament would now write the third and final letter to Mugabe inviting him to attend, failure of which he would face contempt of parliament charges.

"The committee unanimously agreed that we write to the former president inviting him to appear before us on June 11, 2018 at 2 O’clock," Mliswa said.

"If he fails to attend, we will have no choice but to summon him and it’s something that we regret.

"We hope we will not get to that stage of summoning him as his legacy needs to be protected."

Mliswa said Mugabe had not responded to any of their invitations so far.

The meeting, if it happens, will be Mugabe’s first public meeting since he resigned in November last year following a military intervention.

Mugabe said in 2016 that Zimbabwe could have lost 15 billion dollars through diamond revenue leakages from mining operations in Chiadzwa diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe.

Over the past months, the committee has been trying to get more information on the matter and has since received oral evidence from several serving and former cabinet ministers, security chiefs and mining officials.

Mliswa said they were waiting for Mugabe’s oral evidence so that they can conclude their report on the alleged 15 billion dollars.
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South Africa returns old Rhodesian Cabinet files to Zimbabwe

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- South Africa has returned Cabinet files and other State papers dating back to 1927 that former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith took to that country following the collapse of his government.

The documents will be officially handed over to President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House on Wednesday, director of media services in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Anywhere Mutambudzi told Xinhua on Tuesday.

The files are important because they form part of the country’s history and are needed by researchers and scholars.

The majority of the papers cover the period from 1964 to 1978, but older papers go back as far as 1927.

"The Cabinet files were taken to South Africa by Smith when the Rhodesian Front had collapsed and were deposited as his personal documents at Rhodes University," Mutambudzi said.

"These were State documents and reveal sensitive issues on the decision-making processes by the Rhodesian system," Mutambudzi said.

He added that the documents were repatriated following negotiations between the governments of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, was under colonial rule from 1890 to 1980 with Smith declaring unilateral independence from Britain in 1965.

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