News / Africa

    Zimbabwe Poll Date in Flux After Regional Body Calls for Delay

    Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013. Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013.
    x
    Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013.
    Botswana President Ian Khama (L) walks alongside Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (R) during a lunch break at the SADC summit in Maputo, June 15, 2013.
    Anita Powell
    Regional leaders have requested that Zimbabwe’s government delay upcoming elections to give the troubled nation time to make sure the vote is free and fair. 

    President Robert Mugabe set elections for July 31, saying he was complying with a ruling of the Constitutional Court.  The request from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) supports the argument of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who says more time is needed for democratic reforms to be implemented under the country’s new constitution.  

    The 15-member Southern African Development Community said it has asked Zimbabwe’s government to ask the Constitutional Court to extend the poll date beyond July 31. SADC did not specify a new election date, and there has been no clear date from Zimbabwean officials.

    “What summit recommended was in recognizing that there was a need to give more time," said SADC Secretary-General Tomaz Salomao, speaking at Saturday’s summit in Mozambique’s capital. "It was agreed that there is a need that the government of Zimbabwe engage the constitutional court to request for more time beyond the deadline of 31st of July.”

    But it remains to be seen whether President Mugabe, who is well-known for his trenchant opposition to being told what to do, will heed the request.  The 89-year-old is the only leader that Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980, and has said he plans to run for another term.

    He’s also repeatedly said he wants to end the uneasy coalition that SADC forced him to form with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC after the violent and disputed 2008 poll.

    Mugabe’s spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment.  But Tsvangirai has said he will challenge any date that comes before reforms for electoral laws and laws that limit freedom of expression and association are made.  

    Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora, an MDC spokesman, says he’s confident the needed reforms can be completed in two weeks.

    “We are happy that the SADC has now, at last, reined in on Mugabe," he said. "Because Mugabe is acting unilaterally.  He is acting as if he has bought the court because he made the law, he made the electoral law by decree.  We want elections in Zimbabwe as soon as possible, but we want elections under conditions that will guarantee a good result.”

    But, Mwonzora noted, the former opposition party is not leaving anything to chance with a president who he compares to Adolf Hitler.  Mugabe has been accused of using his security forces to intimidate and punish those who oppose him, and rights groups have said his forces have used torture against dissidents.

    “It’s not an unfair comparison, actually.  He has said himself that he is a Hitler three-fold, or ten-fold," he said. "But I am just explaining this to show that appeasement does not work.  There is no reason why the world should ignore a dictator who is abrogating the rights of his people left, right and center.  We have a constitution that must be followed.  And Mugabe is simply not following the constitution.”

    For that reason, he says, the party has asked Mugabe to follow SADC’s request, but has also had the prime minister approach the court to do the same.

    More importantly, Mwonzora says, the extra two weeks will allow a critical constituency to register to vote: Zimbabweans living abroad.  Some 1.5 million Zimbabweans are thought to have relocated to neighboring South Africa, and many here say they left home because they oppose Mugabe’s regime.  If they are allowed to vote, they could make a big impact on the outcome of the elections.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora