Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Proposes March Ballot, November Referendum

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Proposes March Ballot, November Referendum
Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party ruled the country for almost three decades until the South African Development Community bloc forced it to share power with the Movement for Democratic Change, and an MDC splinter faction after a disputed 2008 election. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said he plans to hold a constitutional referendum in November and a national election in March, according to a court filing made today.

The dates will be finalized soon, he said, according to the documents filed in a court in Harare, the southern African nation’s capital.

“These events are the referendum expected to take place during the first week of November, the by-elections and harmonized elections,” Mugabe said, according to the papers seen by Bloomberg. The national election will be held “in the last week of March 2013 and a proclamation to this effect will be made at the appropriate time.”

Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party ruled the country for almost three decades until the South African Development Community bloc forced it to share power with the Movement for Democratic Change, and an MDC splinter faction after a disputed 2008 election. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, and the other MDC faction, have rejected proposed constitutional changes made by Zanu-PF.

The parties must have the referendum on the constitution before the elections, according to the SADC-brokered agreement.

Mugabe presented documents to the Harare High Court in response to its order to set by-election dates after some MDC candidates sued, Harare-based lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said by telephone. The court gave him until Oct. 30, said Mtetwa, who represents some of the MDC candidates.

Calls to Tsvangirai’s office and MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora weren’t immediately answered when Bloomberg sought comment today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Godfrey Marawanyika in Johannesburg at gmarawanyika@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net