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Mugabe: Zimbabwe to Hold General Polls March Next Year

President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday revealed in court papers that Zimbabwe is likely to hold national elections at the end of March 2013.

In an urgent High Court application, in which he sought yet another extension to delay by-elections in three Matabeleland constituencies, Mr. Mugabe said the country is too broke to call a mini-election just ahead of the main polls.

The application says Harare needs $47 million for by-elections, $104million for the referendum and $115 million for harmonized elections covering local, parliamentary and presidential polls.

Presently there are 16 vacant House of Assembly seats, 11 in the Senate and 164 vacant local authority seats.

President Mugabe said the vacant seats are spread across the country, making it too expensive for the government.

The President, who told South African President Jacob Zuma in New York Tuesday that constitutional changes were on track, also reveals in his application that the referendum would be called in November.

“Accordingly, due to the unavailability of financial resources applicant is asking that the holding of the by-elections be further extended to 31st March, 2013, the idea being to subsume the holding of the by-elections in the harmonized elections to be held in the last week of March 2013,” said Mr. Mugabe in the application filed on his behalf by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

"The applicant’s desire is to hold the harmonized elections in the last week of March, 2013 and a proclamation to this effect will be made at the appropriate time."

The High Court had given President Mugabe up to Monday next week to announce dates for by-elections in Nkayi South, Bulilima East and Lupane East.

The three constituencies fell vacant after Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu were fired from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation led by Professor Welshman Ncube.

"I need to inform this honourable court that if we factor in the holding of by-elections, there would be three key events to take place and to be funded by Government within the duration of six months. These events are the referendum, the by-elections and the harmonized general elections," said Mr. Mugabe in the court application.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Wednesday reserved judgment in Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara’s challenge against Ncube’s election as the leader of the smaller MDC formation.

Though Mutambara stood down for Ncube at the party’s 2010 congress, he turned aroung later arguing that Ncube’s elevation had been un-procedural.