Editor’s Memo: MDC better off avoiding an election

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party should resist holding elections next year for a myriad of reasons. President Robert Mugabe’s call for polls is not premised on a satisfactory conclusion of reforms necessary for the holding of free and fair elections.

Mugabe and Zanu PF’s motive is to have a free hand over the state, and they wish to dispense with the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in order to achieve this. It is sad that this desire to regain absolute control over the state is not accompanied by any reformist discourse nor is it driven by the so-called reformers in Zanu PF.
It is hardliners and military elites whose methods for achieving total control of the state have begun to manifest in various ways. According to a Zimbabwean journalist currently studying in the UK, Innocent Chofamba Sithole, this portends greater fraud and thuggery in future elections.
The role of the military in the constitution-making outreach programme was a case in point. Secondly, statements by hardliners undermining the electoral process’s capacity to act as a vehicle for power transfer have come sooner than we experienced in the past.
Senior cabinet minister and army generals have made statements suggesting that there is no need to hold elections because either way Zanu PF will not hand over power.
“The margin of terror looks likely to increase, not subside,” Sithole told us this week.
I have misgivings with Tsvangirai’s strategy of focusing on executive appointments which has led him to charge that Zimbabwe is caught up in a constitutional crisis emanating from unilateral appointments by Mugabe,” he said. “But something far greater, far more systemic demands his attention than the issue of appointments. Security sector reforms, the military’s role in elections and electoral reforms should be the focus. It is also vital to ensure international supervision/observance of elections and media reforms are instituted.”
Focusing on appointments has meant that Tsvangirai has no time to flag these issues. The military factor is really key, and South Africa has a report they are sitting on which was written by their own generals. Pushing them to acknowledge the observations contained in that report while flagging the urgency of negotiating the military out of politics in Zimbabwe carries more weight and diplomatic traction.
It is also important to note that Zanu PF needs an end to the GPA so that they manage their succession conundrum without the complications presented by having the MDC in government and in parliament in the numbers that they presently enjoy. Tsvangirai must ensure that no new elections are held before Mugabe leaves office.
He must then play his powerful hand against the Zanu PF factions either of which recognise his strategic role in deciding who replaces Mugabe should he leave office. The succession issue in the absence of the MDC would be easy to handle.

Constantine Chimakure

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