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‘Early poll will be disputed, violent’

MDC-M secretary-general Welshman Ncube has warned that President Robert Mugabe’s call for an early election mid-next year could spark violence and result in an economic downturn.

Ncube, now tipped to take over from deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara as leader of the smaller MDC formation, on Tuesday evening posted anti-early poll remarks on his social media Facebook page that attracted mixed reactions. This comes amid discordant positions by leaders of the coalition government on early elections to end the inclusive government formed last year after a disputed presidential run-off in 2008.
Ncube’s sentiments came four days after Mugabe told delegates at the Zanu PF annual conference in Mutare that Zimbabweans would cast the ballot next June following growing differences between principals of the coalition — Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mutambara.
“A premature election will be disputed, violent, disastrous and in all likelihood not lead to transfer of power as some seem to think,” Ncube said.
The Industry and Commerce minister said an election could derail Zimbabwe’s prospects of registering double-digit economic growth in the coming year. Finance minister Tendai Biti expects GDP to grow by 8,1% this year, further projecting a double digit growth within the next five years.
“We are therefore against it and call for support in this regard,” Ncube said.
“We hope that reason will prevail and elections come after the reforms that will guarantee a peaceful, credible election, where the loser congratulates the winner and that leads us towards a prosperous Zimbabwe.”
When asked by his Facebook friends whether he was prepared to contest in an election after losing a Makokoba seat to Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe (MDC-T), Ncube said: “I have never believed in boycott politics and personally would want to contest every single seat possible.
“We cannot continue on a route that we have pursued for many years and expect a different result. An election without reforms will be no different to previous ones. It will take us back many years economically and take us to our trenches where we are divided and fighting each other. You must join us in pushing for the full implementation of the GPA. It is only then when we will have a free and fair election.”
Tsvangirai, after winning the first round of elections in March, although not by a margin required by law to form a government, pulled out of the presidential run-off after an orgy of violence against his supporters by Zanu PF, state security agents and war veterans. The MDC-T claims that over 200 of its supporters were killed and thousands maimed and displaced.
The MDC-T leader recently said he would only contest the next elections if the country implements a Sadc-initiated electoral roadmap.
Ncube said Mugabe and Tsvangirai should not “overrate their popularity (or) underestimate the perilous conditions” that will make an election impossible.
Instead, he said, the polls should come after a national healing process and electoral reforms. Mugabe has in recent months threatened to call for an election before constitutional reforms, a decision critics view as authoritarian and in violation of the power-sharing pact.
“We were at the same position before the senate elections (of 2005) were called. We were negotiating a deal (in 2007) similar to this one, and had come to an agreement when some within our ranks decided to snub the deal which resulted in more decline and after much unnecessary loss of life and further hurt, these same people came to accept a deal much worse than that which we are now under,” Ncube said.
In June 2007, Ncube, Biti, MDC-T Secretary-General, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and the then Labour Minister Nicholas Goche met with former South African President Thabo Mbeki, appointed by Sadc to preside over negotiations which sought to end economic and political decline in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, constitutional reform chairperson Douglas Mwonzora has said a referendum to bring in a new constitution if the draft is accepted would be held in September, which would suggest a delay of elections which Mugabe wants in June next year.


Bernard Mpofu

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