Confusion reigns over elections

Taurai Mangudhla

CONFUSION reigns over the proposed holding of elections in the first half of this year after Zanu PF insisted that the polls should go ahead despite growing internal and external resistance.

 

A report in the state-controlled Sunday Mail this week suggested that elections were likely to be deferred to allow for the conclusion of the constitution-making process and because of “intervening complications” in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

 

But Zanu PF national political commissar Webster Shamu told the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday that the position taken during the Zanu PF annual conference in Mutare last month had not changed.

“The Zanu PF party position is that at the expiry of the term of the global political agreement with the two MDC formations on September 15 2008 and the inclusive government born therefrom on February 13 2009, the country must hold harmonised elections without fail,” said Shamu in a written response to an inquiry by the Independent.

The assertion by Shamu flies in the face of the position taken by the two MDC formations and the Sadc mediator, South African President Jacob Zuma, who argue that no elections should be held before the conclusion of the stalled constitution-making process and full implementation of electoral and security sector reforms.

Sadc, the regional bloc which played an instrumental role in the formation of the GPA, added its voice last week insisting on a clear roadmap before another plebiscite.

MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the constitution was not the solution to electoral problems in the country.

“We may have a new constitution but people can still have an election that is neither free nor fair,” Chamisa said. “A new constitution is half, the other half is to do with cleaning the voters’ roll, removal of Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission)’s secretariat, broadcasting reforms and election monitoring reforms. We should also agree on the nature of the election keeping in mind that we have to complete the presidential election that is in dispute. We can’t have an election with (Lovemore) Sekeremayi in Zec’s office” he added.

Sekeremayi is the Zec chief elections officer who was accused alongside the commission of holding on to the March 2008 presidential election results for over a month.

Chamisa said there was need for “real” security sector reforms and an elaborate election monitoring mechanism to avoid violence.
“The villagers are still being terrorised, we need to remove the infrastructure of violence…we have appealed to Sadc, AU, EU and the international community to monitor elections six months before and after the election to avoid violence and intimidation,” said Chamisa.
MDC-M secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, said it was unlikely that elections would be held anytime soon adding that Zanu PF was trying to attract the people’s attention on the wrong things.

“It’s a flare, in a war situation people can throw a flare into the sky to attract their enemy’s attention,” said Ncube. “The idea is to catch your enemy unaware.”

Ncube said that the inclusive government should give precedence to all the agreements enshrined in the GPA over elections and elections could only be held after the fulfilment of all things agreed in the pact.

“A new constitution is one of the many answers (to the country’s problems), but all the requirements of the GPA must be met,” said Ncube.  “We must have a constitution whose outcome will not be contested otherwise it will take us back to 2008.”

Ncube has also said that despite claims to the contrary, the GPA did not have an expiry period.

Analysts said there were reforms to be undertaken before the country talked of another election.

Midlands State University (MSU) chairperson for the Media and Society Studies Department Zvenyika Mugari said there was need to “convincingly” implement reforms before an election to ensure that democratic standards are met.

“For as long as you cannot convince me that we have a conducive environment, I don’t see why we should call for elections,” said Mugari. “We shouldn’t just hold elections for the sake of having them. People should create an environment that makes the process legitimate where everyone is prepared to accept the outcome.”

Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said the uncertainty within Zanu PF could be explained in terms of the internal demands within the party and the inclusive government as well as external pressure from the regional community.

“Reality is dawning, the rhetoric is over, the reality is setting in,” he said. “There was a broad consensus against an election, I know for sure that (Jacob) Zuma (South African President) and Sadc are not for an immediate election, the three principals should agree on the election bearing in mind that the GPA is premised on a new constitution,” said Mandaza.

Constitutional law expert and National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku, however, dismissed the “climb-down” saying Zanu PF would continue to rally for an election this year.

“There is no climb-down, remember Zanu PF said they will go for an election with or without the new constitution,” he said.

Madhuku’s assessment was that Mugabe wanted to avoid coming under fire during a Sadc troika meeting expected before end of this month.

“Mugabe wants to cheat people targeting Sadc so that he doesn’t have to explain a lot of things in the upcoming meeting,” said Madhuku.

Last week, Zuma’s International Affairs advisor Lindiwe Zulu told the Independent that the South African president was drafting a roadmap to Zimbabwe’s elections to be tabled at an extraordinary meeting of the Sadc Organ on Defence, Politics and Security later this month.

The roadmap, Zulu said, would be tailored along the lines of the regional bloc’s Mauritius principles and guidelines governing democratic elections to ensure free and fair polls as and when they are held to end the shaky marriage of convenience between President Robert Mugabe and his archrival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

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