ZIMBABWEANS living in South Africa said they will not participate in next year’s elections if electoral and democratic reforms have not been implemented as agreed to in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed two years ago.
The Diasporans argued that holding elections before completion of the reforms would produce another contested electoral result and effectively take the country back to the pre-2008 period.
Admire Mare, a post-graduate media student at Fort Hare University, said the call for elections was untimely as the country needed to complete implementation of electoral reforms and in the media, before any poll.
He said: “It is too soon to hold elections. Electoral management systems need reforms before we can even talk of elections. The government needs also to concentrate on rebuilding the economy and it currently seems not to have the capacity to fund the electoral process in relation to other competing bread and butter issues. I prefer a situation where the life of the inclusive government is extended to the full life of parliament, which is to 2013, and concentrate on reforms in the meanwhile.”
Bongani Moyo, a waiter in Melville, Johannesburg, said he will consider participating in elections if the government has fixed the economy that drove him into economic exile in the first place.
“I do not see myself coming home to vote. The economy is bad and I need a job,” Moyo said. “Until I am certain that I will get a job and look after my family then I would rather remain in South Africa. It would also be a waste of time to participate in elections held under the current electoral regime that is tilted and you know the result is predetermined.”
Sibongile Tshuma of Hillbrow added that she would not come home to vote till security of people who participate in elections is guaranteed.
“It is unfathomable to consider coming to vote when last time people were beaten up simply for voicing their political views. Electoral and media reforms should be done first. Probably we need to give the Inclusive government a chance to consolidate the economic gains and implement electoral reforms,” Tshuma said.
President Robert Mugabe has for the past few months taken every public opportunity to push for fresh elections.
Both MDC formations have said elections should be held after electoral and media reforms have been implemented. Parliament is currently amending the Public Order and Security Act and changes to the Electoral Act are still to come.
Human rights and political activists in Zimbabwe also believe that credible elections can only take place when democratic reforms have been instituted.
In Harare, Pedzisai Ruhanya , programme manager at Crisis Coalition said: “Any credible elections can be held only after all GPA issues have been implemented. These include matters such as deregulating the media, amending Posa and return to respect for the rule of law.”
Irene Petras of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights concurred saying: “Democratic reforms are crucial to the holding of free and fair elections that could have a result respected by all contestants. These reforms need to happen fast or else the country runs the risk of having another disputed election”.
Paidamoyo Muzulu recently in Johannesburg