HomePoliticsPark and proceed mantra misguided — Chamisa

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THE MDC-T says a new constitution must be enacted first, followed by the creation of an environment that will guarantee security of people, freedom to campaign, and media reforms before Zimbabwe can hold elections that are credible, free and fair.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent clarifying his party’s position on fresh elections, MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said it would be difficult to hold free and fair elections without resolving some of the outstanding issues of the global political agreement (GPA).

He said the country should avoid a repeat of the June 27 2008 bloody presidential run-off election during which more than 200 MDC supporters were killed, while thousands others were assaulted and injured.

“If you ‘park’ issues, how do you proceed? ‘Park and proceed, to me does not mean ‘parking’ outstanding issues. I think it means that on the issues that we have agreed on, let’s implement and on the issues that we have deadlocked on, let’s refer them,” Chamisa said. “We have guarantors (Sadc and AU). Our obligation is to refer the matter so that they can unlock the logjam.”

He said one of the outstanding issues that needed to be resolved before an election is that of national healing, without which Chamisa pointed out people would not be able to freely choose their next leader.

This is in contrast to views expressed by the MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who has of late been talking about “parking” of outstanding issues of the global political agreement (GPA) and proceeding with fresh elections. This followed talks he held in Davos recently with President Jacob Zuma.

Tsvangirai has even gone as far as proposing that a new constitution be enacted by October followed by fresh elections six months later.

Zuma, the facilitator of talks between Zanu PF and the MDC formations, has said Harare should “park” outstanding issues of the GPA and “proceed” with elections.

“The official position that is already agreed on will deal with the issue of a people-driven constitution that will allow us to put in place the necessary institutional, technical and legal changes that will facilitate free and fair elections,” Chamisa said.

“We want an election that will have an outcome, that will be credible and legitimate, which will breed confidence and stabilisation so that there is no repeat of the June 27 poll and that there is no violence. We have agreed that this is a shared journey.”

Chamisa could however not give a timeframe of when fresh elections could be held.

Even if Tsvangirai wants an election as early as April next year, the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution-making process (Copac) co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu PF) said the earliest Zimbabwe can have a constitution is May 31 2011 because of the seven months delay in the process.

Although Chamisa accused Zanu PF of using delaying tactics as a tool to derail or postpone the process, Copac believes that none of the political parties want an early election.

“The timeframe is part of the outstanding issues. The timeframes are not being respected with commitment and in practice,” he said.

Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) this week said the delay in the constitution-making process was due to fear of fresh elections in 2011.

“I used to think that it is only this party or the other that did not want early elections. I was wrong. The constitution-making process is being connected to elections. There is fear of an early election. These people who think that their privileges are being threatened don’t want an early election,” he told journalists at the Quill Club in the capital on Tuesday. “Where there are people who are maybe holding certain positions, they don’t want an early election. The constitution is not meant for elections but is for future generations and narrow sectoral interests are delaying the process.”

While the nature of the polls were not clear, Chamisa said, the issue would create a heated debate with legislators opposed to fresh harmonised elections that would once again cut short their five-year terms.

In 2008, legislators’ terms were cut by two years and their current term had been due to run until 2013.

Sources in Zanu PF say Mugabe would rather want harmonised elections while Tsvangirai wanted a presidential poll – which was disputed in June 2008 and culminated in talks that gave birth to the inclusive government last February.

Turning to the talks on the outstanding issues, Chamisa said they remained deadlocked with no movement at all.

“Our negotiating team advised me that there is no movement. I think that there are still in one place. It would appear that our declaration that there is a deadlock is still the case. There is no willingness to break the impasse. Our obligation now is to refer the matter to guarantors,” he said.

Zanu PF has resolved that the party’s negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, must not yield during talks unless the MDC formations ensured the removal of targeted Western sanctions and stopped foreign radio broadcasts into Zimbabwe.


Faith Zaba

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