THE enactment by President Robert Mugabe of Statutory Instrument No 46 of 2008 being the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Amendment of the Electoral Act) regulations of 2008 summarises everything that is wrong with this weekendâ€™s election in particular and Zimbabwe in general.
The above regulations seek to amend Sections 55, 59 and 60 of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13 as amended by the Electoral Laws Act Amendment No 17 of 2007.
Amendment No17 to the Electoral Act, which became law on January 11, was a piece of law negotiated between the MDC and Zanu PF during the Sadc-sponsored talks facilitated by President Thabo Mbeki.
That piece of legislation was agreed to and signed by the parties in Pretoria on October 30 2007 and presented to Sadc through Mbeki on the very same day.
Before the Sadc dialogue, the law allowed policeman and members of the defence forces to assist the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and most importantly allowed policemen to be present at any polling station. Further, in terms of section 59 and 60, the presence of the police was required when an official assisted a physically incapacitated voter.
During the Sadc negotiations, the MDCâ€™s position was that the police had been abused and used systematically to generate intimidation and threats.
What Mugabe has therefore done in the above regulation is to bring back the old order and allow police officers back into polling stations but most importantly allowed incapacitated voters to vote in the presence of police officers.
Quite clearly, the re-enactment of the old law confirms the presence of the mischief that we had dealt with in the Sadc dialogue. The mischief being that police are indeed used as a weapon of intimidation in the Zanu PF power retention agenda.
Secondly, it is unacceptable that Mugabe, a participant in this election, can change the rules of the game when the game is being played.
Thirdly, sight must not be lost of the fact that it was parliament that enacted the new law on December 20. For Mugabe to place himself above parliament and bulldoze his way, as he has always done, reflects the sickness of this establishment.
How can one man be above the law and play god with all of us? This election represents a turning point for Zimbabwe.Â Mugabe has no right to privatise the same and treat this nation as Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd.
In our view, Mugabeâ€™s regulations are unlawful in that he has usurped the laws of ZEC under section 192 of the Electoral Act. Over and above, Mugabeâ€™s appetite for making presidential decrees is unacceptable as it is a clear breach of the rule of law.
Â By Tendai Biti
Tendai Biti is MDC secretary-general.