PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has called for a “global campaign” to ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, warning the current transitional arrangement has largely failed due to internecine conflict within the unstable inclusive government.Tsvangirai’s remarks at the high-profile European Development Days conference in Brussels on Monday have put Zimbabwe under the international spotlight again as the country prepares for fresh elections after a series of disputed polls since 2000.
The conference was attended by 15 738 participants, 5 309 civil society organisations, 927 media groups, 382 stakeholders, 44 ministers, 24 heads of state, 12 prime ministers and six Nobel Laureates.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe needs free and fair elections to resolve the current political stalemate.
“It is against this background that South African President Jacob Zuma is leading a regional effort to stabilise the political tension in Zimbabwe and making sure we craft a roadmap to a free and fair election; an election where the people’s will is respected and where the result is not contestable,” he said. “There must be a global campaign to support a peaceful election in Zimbabwe.”
Previous disputed elections created a decade-long political stalemate in Zimbabwe, which devastated the economy at the height of hyperinflation in 2008 and left the country on the verge of collapse.
President Robert Mugabe, who lost the first round of the 2008 presidential election before resorting to violence and intimidation to recover from defeat, says he wants the elections by June next year, but faces fierce opposition from Zanu PF officials and other parties which want conditions for genuine and credible polls created first.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe should avoid the 2008 situation and what happened in Kenya in 2007 and Ivory Coast recently.
Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo lost the November 28 election to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara. Although the electoral commission declared Ouattara the winner, Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council annulled votes in the country’s north over claims of irregularities and declared Gbagbo as winner. The world was outraged and is up in arms against Gbagbo over his the brazen electoral fraud. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki also stole an election in 2007, forcing a GNU arrangement
ment as in Zimbabwe. Mugabe retained power under similar circumstances and now Gbagbo has done the same, much to the consternation of even hitherto quiet African leaders. West African and African Union leaders have called upon Gbagbo to accept defeat and quit.
“The Ivory Coast is an example: Democracy has once again failed because we choose to ignore the people, even after the people have unequivocally expressed themselves in an election,” Tsvangirai said.
“The Ivory Coast scenario is likely to produce another coalition government. We have seen this in Kenya and Zimbabwe. We in Zimbabwe have travelled this road before, where people’s rights are trampled and democracy subverted for the sake of forced stability.”
The premier said although the inclusive government has scored some successes, it had largely failed due to “residual dictatorship”.
“We are in a transition where we have made notable progress. But the transitional arrangement has also failed to work because of tension,” he said.
“GPA disagreements, unilateralism and residual dictatorship have impacted negatively on our great opportunity to usher in democratic reforms and to respect human rights. Despotic attitudes and practices by our colleagues in the inclusive government continue to negatively affect people’s lives and the vision for a new, democratic dispensation is under threat.”
Tsvangirai said the world must take note that Zimbabwe was sliding back to repression.
“Those in our inclusive government with a history of repression have begun a new wave of violence and a crack-down on the free press. There is now deployment of the army, arrests of journalists and editors of the independent press, etc,” he said.
“The people of Zimbabwe are once again on the frontline in the war for freedom. The struggle unfolding in Zimbabwe is one that pits good over evil, right against wrong and freedom against tyranny. It is a fight that I am determined to wage and a fight that I, the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe, will win.”