Dumisani Muleya/Itai Dzamara
THREE months before next year’s general election, the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are still “worlds apart” on content
ious electoral reforms. This follows reports in the government media that the two parties are in agreement on electoral reform.
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the two parties were still poles apart on the political reform agenda. The reforms are contained in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Bill and the accompanying Electoral Bill.
“There still remains an extremely wide gulf between Zanu PF and the MDC on the electoral reforms,” Ncube said.
“It’s not true that we are now proceeding by consensus because there is no agreement. What has happened is that they have made a few technical concessions, like improving the quality of drafting of the Bill, but not on fundamentals issues.”
The ZEC Bill was passed by parliament last week while the Electoral Bill was passed yesterday. The changes will result in voting in one day instead of two, use of translucent ballot boxes, and the counting of ballots at polling centres.
The Electoral Bill will amend the Electoral Act to facilitate reforms.
Reports in the state media this week claimed Zanu PF and the MDC had found common ground on key electoral issues, but Ncube said this was untrue. He said the parties were still entrenched in widely divergent positions.
“We still have irreconcilable differences on the method of appointment of commissioners to the ZEC, the role of the Registrar-General’s Office, the voters’ roll, and the issue of repressive legislation,” Ncube said.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) we were refused permission to hold consultative meetings and where permission was granted there were impossible conditions attached.”
Ncube, who has previously engaged in informal talks with Zanu PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa on the current crisis, said Zanu PF’s obduracy militated against a negotiated political settlement.
“There are still a lot of contentious issues,” he said. “Out of the more than 30 proposals we have made, Zanu PF has only accepted about five. They have agreed to give us access to the state media but it’s an empty agreement if there are no enforcement mechanisms.