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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid