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Take poll changes with a pinch of salt

I RECEIVED with surprise news that President Mugabe who defended the electoral system in Zimbabwe as sufficiently transparent had decided to make alterations to it and concede to demands he had always rejected as the insatiable thirst of

imperialists seeking to subjugate a hard-won Independence from colonial repression.

I then took my time to examine these reforms which appear to be simple wishful political generalisations. I came up with major questions which without being practically resolved, will pour cold water on the premature ululation that followed the promised reforms.

It is in our best interests to look at these proposed developments with a pinch of salt.

I am eager to know whether the Sadc norms and standards will mean that prior to the elections all contesting parties will be given enough coverage in state media. If these changes were meant to promote fair elections then all parties must be given enough time to air their facts and goals on national television and in state-owned newspapers.

Because elections are so important, parties must be allowed to craft their campaign adverts which must be allocated equal time and aired as the party wishes. Instead of an interview where the journalist chooses questions, the national broadcaster must allocate time to a political party which submits a broadcastable advert to be played as part of its party campaign.

In a country that believes elections to be important, say an hour of 15-minute slots for four parties will provide exciting viewing and listening and allow the electorate to compare both policies and personalities.

Interviews are good and must be allocated time too. But a documentary in which a party takes its time to explain itself to the electorate is highly desirable. Only a party that has nothing sufficiently appealing to say to voters will find fault with this proposal.

Also because of the prevalence of violence I urge the police to safeguard the security of all politicians at rallies so that people are free to attend under the protection of the police. As there is nothing to hide, supposedly, election observers should be allowed into the country at a time they consider appropriate to allow them to determine the complete environment in which campaign as well as voting starts and ends. After all, there is no harm caused by people being in our country at any time if we are as civilised and peaceful in our daily lives including conduct of elections as we claim.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must not be for lip service or political expediency. It must come as a chance for Zanu PF to do one genuine thing in 24 years for a change. It must be a time for them to tell the people they are trying to abandon repression.

We would welcome such an attempt from 24 years of notorious thuggery. Again they must repeal Aippa, allow independent broadcasters, reopen closed newspapers and disband the youth militia.

The danger which Zanu PF does not seem to realise is that if people get the MDC into power and it does all these things people yearn for – giving people choice and liberty including a new constitution – it will be a long time, when all the people and their grandsons who remember Zanu PF are gone, that another chance may present itself.

Zanu PF will be in the position the Rhodesian Front was, and pre-Independence rhetoric will be only as good as history. It is clear that for as long as Zanu PF opposes true freedom the MDC will remain popular and should truly give people the very things that life deserves – choice, control, opportunity and peace. No one will ever want to hear about Zanu PF again.

Courage Shumba,

United Kingdom.

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