News / Africa

Zimbabwe President Sets Election Date, Stirring More Dissent

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO headquarters during a World Summit on Food Security, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.  (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO headquarters during a World Summit on Food Security, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has announced national elections will be held July 31 - sparking an outcry from his prime minister. The vote is expected to bring an end to this contentious four-year-old power-sharing government.  But, the process is only creating further dissension in Zimbabwe politics.
 
The long-awaited announcement of the election date seemed only to have pushed Zimbabwe into a fresh political crisis.
 
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told journalists in Harare that President Mugabe informed him of the date in a letter.
 
Tsvangirai - who wants elections delayed until democratic reforms are implemented  - said the president’s action are not legal.
 
“President Mugabe’s actions are a unilateral and flagrant breach of our Constitution. I, as prime minister, cannot and will not accept this. The net effect of President Mugabe’s unilateral and illegal proclamation is an unmitigated frontal and rear attack on the SADC, the AU and [South African] President Jacob Zuma. President Mugabe and his team cannot hide behind the concept of sovereignty that they long ago surrendered and mortgaged through the misgovernance and state failure that led SADC to engage in our affairs as way back as 2007," said Tsvangirai.
 
Tsvangirai warned earlier this week he would veto an early election date - saying it would only allow Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party to manipulate the vote.
 
The last Zimbabwe election was widely condemned as unfair and led African leaders in 2008 to force Mugabe to form a power sharing government with Tsvangirai.
 
Mugabe called elections using his presidential powers, saying he was complying with the constitutional court’s order for the vote to be held by the end of July.
 
This would be the first election under Zimbabwe’s new constitution, which voters overwhelmingly in a March referendum. It was supported by both the ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai’s MDC party.
 
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.

“Whether the MDC agrees or not, whether SADC agrees or not, Zimbabwe is headed for a hotly disputed election than any other. So it is up to SADC, the AU, [African Union] to see within the context of Mugabe’s proclamation how they come in and alleviate what could be a political disaster in the making," said Ruhanya.

After delaying a week, the leaders of the South African Development Community - the SADC - are this weekend expected to meet to discuss Zimbabwe’s election roadmap.
 
Tsvangirai said the SADC’s postponement was a mistake.
 
“It is now clear that President Mugabe called for the postponement in order to go to SADC with a done deal of an election date. Thus clearly, President Mugabe has sought to render the forthcoming SADC summit a dead rubber and a talk show. This is clearly dishonest and disrespectful of the esteemed leaders of SADC, the AU, President Zuma and our brothers and sisters on the African continent," he said.

Regional analysts say the SADC cannot force President Mugabe to change the date.  But Ruhanya said the group can take steps to ensure a credible election if it acts quickly.
 
“It is possible for SADC to immediately deploy its observers, for AU to immediately deploy its observers. They have to deploy their people now and now, to monitor the registration process, to monitor the political environment before we go into a hotly disputed electoral outcome," he said.
 
But before that happens, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said his lawyers will go to court Friday to contest the election date.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid