News / Africa

Southern African Leaders Meet to Discuss Zimbabwe Elections

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe jokes with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Harare, May 22, 2013.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe jokes with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Harare, May 22, 2013.
Southern African leaders are meeting in Mozambique this weekend to discuss the upcoming Zimbabwean elections.  The event is likely to be overshadowed by the controversy over the election date.  Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is challenging President Robert Mugabe’s decision to hold the elections on July 31, a date less than seven weeks away.  

Leaders of countries in the Southern African Development Community, SADC, are finally meeting this weekend in Mozambique to discuss ground rules for the Zimbabwean elections, after postponing the summit last week.  

On Thursday, President Mugabe said elections will be held on July 31.  However, Prime Minister Tsvangirai, who formed a power-sharing government with Mugabe in 2009, says the president did not consult him before setting the election date.

“I instructed my attorneys to file an urgent application to deal with this matter," said Tsvangirai. "In addition, I think SADC, we are going to the summit, I think SADC has a responsibility of ensuring that they call the president to order.  We hope that SADC will have a consensus and that is what I expect to be the outcome of the conference.”

Tsvangirai’s lawyer Selby Hwacha said they want Zimbabwe’s highest court to force Mugabe to revisit the election date.  He says the president usurped parliamentary powers and changed the electoral law.

The prime minister and other Mugabe opponents have also demanded changes in electoral laws and laws that restrict the rights of expression and association before the elections are held.  The court hearing for the case is likely to be next week, a few days after the SADC leaders’ meeting in Mozambique.  

Professor Lovemore Madhuku is a senior constitutional lawyer at the University of Zimbabwe.  He said it is not likely that the Zimbabwean courts will rule in favor of Tsvangirai.

He also said the SADC has no power to make Mugabe change the election date.

“These are voluntary organizations - the best they can do is to expel Zimbabwe from SADC, but not to run its affairs," said Madhuku. "You go into SADC as a sovereign country.  Do you think President Mugabe will listen to SADC, that might be a better question.  Not will SADC reverse.  SADC will not reverse."

Earlier this week, Pedzisai Ruhanya, a media and democracy doctorate student at University of Westminster in Britain, said this election could plunge Zimbabwe into a fresh political crisis unless SADC quickly moves in and ensure a credible election.

“It is possible for SADC to immediately deploy its observers, for AU to immediately deploy its observers," said Ruhanya. "They have to deploy their people now, to monitor the registration process, to monitor the political environment before we go into a hotly disputed electoral outcome.”  

Zimbabwe's last elections in 2008 were marred by widespread violence, most of it by Mugabe supporters against perceived opponents.  The elections were widely condemned as unfair and resulting in SADC pressuring Mugabe to form the current power-sharing government.  The fragile arrangement will end after the next election is held.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More