MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai two weeks ago said that he had agreed with President Robert Mugabe to hold elections next year, but Zanu PF sources said polls were unlikely in 2011.
The Zimbabwe Independent understands that while Mugabe told Finance minister Tendai Biti to budget US$100 million for the referendum and another US$100 million for the general election, Zanu PF had no plans for elections but wanted to find out MDC-T’s strategy.
One politburo member said: “There are no elections next year. We just wanted to see how MDC-T would react. Why should we have elections next year when there is peace in the country and when we are beginning to see our country start to recover? As you can see we are sitting together mapping out and planning our economic recovery.” He was referring to a pre-budget ministerial workshop held yesterday.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai told the Independent yesterday that the principals, who have not met since the Windhoek Sadc summit in August, were expected to finalise the outstanding issues, discuss emerging issues of violence and security-sector re-alignment, and agree on the roadmap for fresh polls.
The roadmap to elections includes the completion of the constitution-making process, a referendum on a constitutional draft, implementing media, security and electoral reforms, agreeing on a framework that would guarantee a violence-free poll and the holding of general elections that will produce a legitimate winner.
“We could not meet because one of the principals (Professor Arthur Mutambara) was away for three weeks and even now the president is away,” Tsvangirai said. “So we are only scheduling a meeting possibly for this coming week, maybe around Thursday.”
Tsvangirai could not, however, be drawn to give a date for the elections but said it was a process and polls could only be held after certain benchmarks that guarantee free and fair elections are in place.
He said the Thursday meeting would focus a lot on the violence that erupted at the outreach meetings in Harare, which resulted in the death of an MDC-T supporter.
“Obviously it is one of the key benchmarks, given these incidents of interference with the will of the people to express themselves. We need to ensure that it will be a violence-free election,” said Tsvangirai.
“It is a whole lot of issues –– if we are going to go into an election with fear predominant, it means that people will not be able to express themselves. We will already have subverted the people’s will. Violence is one of the key issues that we will look at as principals and decide how we are going to achieve a violence-free election.”
Tsvangirai said Sadc and the African Union would have to guarantee that agreement for violence-free elections.
“We don’t want elections that will then become contestable because of violence,” he said. “The facilitator is going to come to talk about these issues and also to discuss what is the opinion of the parties regarding the roadmap for elections so that we have common benchmarks,” he said, adding that: “On what we need to be observed to have elections, we have to have electoral reforms to ensure that we have free and fair elections.”
Tsvangirai said it was possible to have free and fair elections in Zimbabwe if all the necessary reforms are in place.
“I think that with everything in place, with all the benchmarks that we agreed on including the removal of violence, this country will be ready for elections,” he said.
“So we want to make sure ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) which has been appointed sets the programmes and priorities and that the parties have an agreement which is then underwritten by Sadc.”