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Zimbabwe poll draws closer

Mark Caldwell / afp,ap
June 3, 2013

Zimbabwe is gearing up for elections which have to be held by the end of July, despite a shortage of funds and unfinished reforms.

(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said he will abide by a court ruling to hold elections by 31 July 2013

"I do not wish to offend against the law," Mugabe said on the fringes of an international summit on African development in Japan.

Zimbabwe's constitutional court announced the deadline for the elections on Friday.

However Mugabe has yet to say when the elections will take place.

His rival and partner in a four year fractious coalition Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wants more time for vital reforms before the vote.

GettyImages 163766055 Zimbabwe Prime Minister and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai speaks to church leaders who were gathered at his offices during a meeting focused on the final draft constitution in Harare on March 15, 2013. Zimbabweans set to vote on a constitutional referendum on March 16 and crunch elections expected in June or July. AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Morgan Tsvangirai wants reforms implemented before the pollImage: AFP/Getty Images

Douglas Mwonzora, a spokesman for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told DW the issue was not whether the elections would be held at the end of July or the end of June, but whether they were being held after necessary reforms had been enacted. "These are simple reforms that take a month, or less than that," he said.

Lack of funds

He was referring to voter registration and ending the monopoly of the state-owned media by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. The MDC is also unhappy that serving senior army officers have been openly voicing their support for Mugabe.

But the key issue in these elections is the lack of funds needed to carry them out. Last week Finance Minister Tendai Bitti said he was struggling to raise the necessary $130 million (99 million euros).

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in the capital Harare, replacing a 33-year-old document forged in the dying days of British colonial rule and paving the way for elections later this year, May 22, 2013. The constitution, approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March, clips the powers of the president and imposes a two-term limit. However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe could extend his 33 years in power by another decade. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE - Tags: POLITICS)
President Robert Mugabe signing a new constitution into a law, which was a pre-condition for fresh electionsImage: Reuters

Meanwhile Rugare Gumbo, ZANU-PF spokesman said he was confident his party would win the election and that the coalition government had shown that the MDC had "no concrete program." He also dismissed MDC calls for "good governance" saying Zimbabweans couldn't eat "good governance."

Nixon Nyikadzino, senior programs officer with the group "Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition" told DW's Africalink show that the constitutional court ruling "does not justify that the reforms do not take place."

Last week the southern African regional bloc SADC announced a special summit to assess Zimbabwe's readiness for the elections.