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BizDay Zimbabwe

Schools Ordered to Close Early For Poll

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HARARE – The Zimbabwean government has ordered all schools to close on July 26 – about a week early – to allow for the long-anticipated general election to be held on July 31.
In a statement released Friday after the Constitutional Court had Thursday ruled that the harmonized poll – which some political parties had tried to have postponed – be held on July 31, David Coltart, the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Friday issued a directive to all schools to close a week earlier for the second semester.
The move is meant to allow the free participation of teachers in the exercise and the use of some school premises as polling stations.
Zimbabwe’s highest court late Thursday ruled that the country goes to the polls on July 31, throwing out appeals by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and four others, who wanted the date postponed.   President Robert Mugabe had in June proclaimed the July 31 poll date, declaring he was forced to do so because of a court order.
“In order to compensate for some of the lost time, the Third Term will begin on 3 September 2013 instead of 10 September 2013.The end date for the Third Term remains 5 December 2013,” Coltart said in a statement.
He added: “If individual schools have particular events which they will find difficult to adjust or postpone they may apply to the Permanent Secretary for permission to continue with these events. Sympathetic consideration will be given to these applications so long as they do not clash with the election itself and do not involve keeping the entire school open.”
The July 31 poll emphatically rings the end bell for the five-year coalition government led by Mugabe and Tsvangirai which has ruled the southern African country since a disputed election in 2008.

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