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Many Zimbabweans Believe Country Not Ready for New Elections


Movement for Democratic Change Secretary-General Tendai Biti said Wednesday that three outstanding issues from the political agreement with ZANU-PF two years ago will be implemented within a month. The Southern African Development Community and South African President Jacob Zuma are guarantors of the political agreement which brought the unity government to power in February last year. The information Biti revealed at a press conference was not made public at this week's SADC summit in Windhoek.

Tendai Biti, who is also MDC finance minister in the inclusive government, said there is a road map for Zimbabwe towards fresh elections.

He said the most significant outstanding issues of the political agreement were President Robert Mugabe's appointment of a ZANU-PF attorney general, after the political agreement was signed. He said another was Mr. Mugabe's close associate, central bank governor Gideon Gono who remains in office. He said the third was Mr. Mugabe's failure to swear MDC treasurer, Roy Bennett into office as deputy agriculture minister.

Bennett was recently acquitted of what the MDC says were trumped up treason charges.

Biti said there was no clear time table for fresh elections as much preparation was needed, such as a new voters' role and fresh and independent boundaries for voting areas.

He said the constitution writing progress had to be concluded and it had only seriously started recently with meetings of ordinary people around the country. The MDC says some of these meetings have been disrupted by Mr. Mugabe's supporters.

Biti said that Mr. Zuma and SADC continued to guarantee that Zimbabwe would move ahead towards fresh, free and fair elections.

Most people in Harare do not know what went on at the SADC summit this week as Mr. Zuma did not speak in public about this latest road map for Zimbabwe's political progress.

People on the street say they believe Mr. Zuma's report will commit Zimbabwe to a new election next year.

Misheck Chimusipu is a rapporteur with the constitutional outreach program and he says, in the current state of things, it would be impossible for Zimbabwe to hold free and fair elections.

"We still believe there is no political tolerance among our peoplem," he said. "The organ on reconciliation has not done much to the most affected people who were affected in past elections, and also if there is no reconciliation I don't think we will be able to have a free and fair election."

Others on the street say memories are still fresh of elections of 2008, and the violence which forced MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who beat Mr. Mugabe in the first round of the presidential poll, to pull out of the run-off in June, 2008 citing violence against his supporters.

Isaac Mufumi, a shopkeeper in Harare says the inclusive government has not done enough to ensure the next polls will be peaceful.

He also says Mr. Mugabe will use continuing western travel and financial sanctions against the ZANU-PF leadership and some companies the party controls, as an excuse to commit political violence in any upcoming elections.

"Zimbabwe is not ready for elections any time now or anytime soon, The inclusive government hasn't done anything, nothing has been done on the ground," he said. "Zimbabwe needs to reconcile its people. Not this rhetoric that Mugabe is always talking about."

The SADC summit decided to defer any action against Zimbabwe for refusing to recognize a judgment by the SADC Tribunal which ruled, more than two years ago, that a group of evicted white Zimbabwean farmers had been unfairly targeted because of their race. Mr. Mugabe says the formation of the SADC Tribunal was not properly constituted. SADC leaders at the summit agreed that they will revisit the controversy over the Tribunal in the next six months after a justice committee has concluded its analysis of the formation of the Tribunal.

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