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Zimbabwe Opposition Debates Runoff and Violence


As Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) continues to debate whether to participate in a presidential runoff election, its leader Morgan Tsvangirai Monday reportedly said he won’t commit to any runoff until the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission sets the date for such election.

Meanwhile, there was movement Monday on the diplomatic front. The new chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping reportedly met Monday in Harare with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Also, the Political, Defense and Security Committee of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) called on the Zimbabwe government Monday to guarantee security during a second round vote.

Sydney Masamvu is an analyst with the Southern Africa Project of the International Crisis Group. From Pretoria, South Africa, he told VOA the MDC is trying to ensure that there’s no violence during any runoff.

“I think the MDC has to understand in the context that they are trying to ensure that conditions for proper election are put in place against the background of continuing violence which actually obtaining in Zimbabwe. It doesn’t make any political sense of committing to an election, which is already flawed in terms of violence and in an environment, which is already uneven. So what the MDC is saying is actually important in a sense that they will only commit to an election which is held in a free and fair environment,” he said.

Observers believe the MDC is caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand the MDC is concerned about second round election violence. On the other hand if it does not take part in any runoff, it would be giving President Mugabe a victory.

Masamvu said the MDC would most likely participate in a runoff election.

“I think in the final analysis the MDC will participate. But it has to talk concessions of ensuring that the environment is conducive for an election to be held. It is also important to understand that Mugabe cannot win a free and fair election. Mugabe is beyond redemption in terms being electable,” Masamvu said.

The Political, Defense and Security Committee of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reportedly called on the Zimbabwe government Monday to guarantee security during a second round vote.

Masamvu said President Mugabe would have to comply with SADC demands.

“Mugabe is facing his moment of truth. He has to address what the SADC leaders are saying because that his last line of support. And the very fact that this call within the SADC body underlies that Mugabe is on his own right now, and he has ensure that he complies with what the SADC is saying,” Masamvu said.

New chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping reportedly met Monday in Harare with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Masamvu believes the African Union is trying to ensure that President plays according to rulebook of democracy,

“I think given the progressive role which the AU chairman, President Kikwete (Jakaya) is playing of Tanzania, I think every African institution is trying to ensure that Mugabe plays to the rulebook and ensure that whatever the post-election process is in Zimbabwe has to meet the standard set by SADC and the African Union. And more so that the Zimbabwe stalemate has to be resolved in a negotiated political settlement,” Masamvu said.

He said if and when the MDC decides to participate in a runoff election, it would have to do so with a united opposition.

“Indeed there will be defacto united front. Already Arthur Mutambara’s faction has actually said we are working together. And actually as things stand right now, the opposition will actually go into this runoff as a united front,” Masamvu said.

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