HomeCommentEditor's Memo: AU should be proactive, not reactive

Editor’s Memo: AU should be proactive, not reactive

THE African Union (AU) is meeting for its annual summit in Addis Ababa. Top on the agenda will obviously be the political unrest in Ivory Coast and Tunisia as well as increasing protests in Egypt.

It would be a folly, however, for the AU to completely ignore Zimbabwe at this summit as the country faces the risk of going back to the dark days of 2008 if recent events are anything to go by.

On Sunday President Robert Mugabe threatened to dissolve parliament and call for elections if there was no consensus on a new constitution as required by the Global Political Agreement.

It is clear by his recent pronouncements that Mugabe wants elections soon and clearly does not give a hoot whether the environment is conducive for the polls.

This is where the AU and Sadc should flex their muscles as continental and regional bodies and intervene in stopping this madness.

We have witnessed an increase in incidents of violence in both urban and rural areas with soldiers deployed countrywide to intimidate the electorate ahead of the polls. There have been reports of houses belonging to MDC-T supporters being burnt by Zanu PF thugs as well as efforts to sabotage the constitution process.

Just last week Zanu PF supporters invaded resort lodges and camps at Lake Chivero under the guise of indigenisation. It was only thwarted by JOC which ordered riot police to remove them.

There has been increasing stories in the public media denigrating the MDC-T as Zanu PF dominates the airwaves with jingles praising Mugabe. In all fairness, labelling the supposedly national broadcaster as Zanu PF TV would not be far off the mark. Reactionaries within the former ruling party are now agitating against the road map South African president Jacob Zuma is pushing for using the all too obvious “sovereignty” posture.

It is hard to justify the existence of an organ of national healing and reconciliation given the increasingly polarised environment in the country. It has truly proved to be a white elephant.

The three principals to the GPA have failed to implement what they agreed and signed on September 15 2008. There has been very little done in terms of security, legislative and media reforms with no new players in the electronic media.

This clearly illustrates that the country is not prepared for an election as it will only lead to another political crisis. This is the last thing the country and the continent needs especially at a time the country’s economy has stabilised.

While we agree that elections are the only solution to unlock the political logjam in the country, we contend that holding an election without proper reforms will only produce a similar result to that of 2008 with possibly more devastating consequences.

The AU need to be more vigilant and ensure that elections are not held in the current environment as doing so would only leave them with a much bigger problem when the situation spirals out of control.

The AU must support the GPA facilitator, President Jacob Zuma, in calling for a clear roadmap for elections which includes extensive media and security reforms, a proper national healing process as well as ensuring that a democratic, all-inclusive constitution is in place.

In addition, the AU should send an assessment team that will complement efforts by Sadc to bring about conclusive and satisfactory elections in Zimbabwe.

The AU must take heed of the adage that a stitch in time saves nine. It needs to demonstrate its concern before the all-too-predictable chaos takes place.

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