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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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