OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai is seeking the intervention of international election observers to help improve electoral standards in Zimbabwe.
“While we are doing as much as we can to campaign for a review of our electoral standards, it is important for international observers to help us to achieve our goals in this national assignment. Our electoral standards are still very backward. They are a source of instability,” Tsvangirai said in his weekly message.
Zimbabwe goes to the polls in March next year. The MDC is continuing its preparations for the parliamentary elections confirming earlier assurances that the MDC will participate despite the killings, violence and threats.
Pressure is getting harder and the obstacles to organising free elections are increasing every day, according to Tsvangirai.
The MDC leader lashed out at Sadc government – as distinct from parliamentary – election observers whom he accused of legitimising fraudulent ballots.
“We are disturbed by the conduct of official observers from the Sadc region who are quick to find adjectives to puff up public explanations in an attempt to justify what could clearly be a fraud,” Tsvangirai said.
“They choose to blame administrative bottlenecks, which they conveniently assume to be natural, instead of condemning openly questionable electoral practices in their own backyards.”
The MDC leader said when confronted privately, the same official observers admit their mistakes, but raise spurious arguments about stability, solidarity, the liberation struggle and the fact that it is normal for elections to present difficult challenges in Africa.
Since 2000, Zimbabwean elections have sparked immense political controversy and divided the Sadc region, Africa and the international community. The divisions are clearly visible between political parties, civil society and governments.
During the 2000 parliamentary election and the 2002 presidential election, observers from South Africa, Nigeria and Sadc governments generally approved of the outcome.
Tsvangirai said local independent observers disagreed with them – “justifiably because we lost close to 300 lives and billions of dollars in destroyed property to Zanu PF thuggery”.
Other observers such as the Sadc parliamentary forum, the European Union and those from the Commonwealth, led by a Nigerian, criticised the elections as less than free and fair.
Tsvangirai said the failure of African leaders to restrain each other or merely to acknowledge evil intentions against the people has made it possible for dictators to bludgeon their way into office.
“Presidents Bakili Muluzi, Joachim Chissano, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki visited Zimbabwe in an attempt to find a solution to what they clearly saw as a crisis from Robert Mugabe’s self-proclaimed victory,” said
Tsvangirai. “Still nothing significant happened to assist Zimbabweans, or better still to push the Mugabe regime to change the nation’s electoral standards.”
The MDC leader said Mugabe’s regime went on to constrict the democratic space by promulgating repressive laws that have pushed the political environment to a stage of heightened internal tension thereby closing off all avenues for principled political dialogue.
Tsvangirai said international observers need to move into the country early enough to observe the electoral process right up to the counting of ballots.
“We recommend a period of at least 90 days before the election day.
Observers and monitors, as stakeholders, must put pressure on Mugabe and his regime to open up political activity to all interested parties and individuals in Zimbabwe. They must impress upon the regime that for a democracy to be seen to be effective everybody, or at least the majority, must recognise an election, and an election result,” said Tsvangirai.