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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora