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Human Rights Body Says Zimbabwe Not Ready For Elections

In Zimbabwe, the main Roman Catholic human rights body has added its voice to calls by some ordinary Zimbabweans that the country is not ready to hold credible elections next month. The human rights body says conditions in the country are not conducive to make the election acceptable locally and internationally. But supporters of incumbent President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party say the country is ready to conduct the March elections in a transparent manner.

Eliphas Mukonoweshuro is the general secretary of Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Harare that his party would begrudgingly be part of next month’s elections.

“We do not believe that the conditions as they exist on the ground now would amount to free and fair conditions for elections. But, however, as a democratic party, the only war we know how to fight best is an electoral battle. And this is the reason why we are going in under serious protest,” Mukonoweshuro noted.

He denied the MDC is reneging on its insistence not to be part of next month’s elections, due to what the party has described as a pre-determined election win for the ruling ZANU-PF party.

“We are not actually turning against what we have been saying all along. All we are saying is that the whole world knows that the electoral playing field is not level and we are saying watch it as we go in. We are going in because that is the only game we know how to play. We are not a violent party, we are a party worthy of electoral calling,” he said.

Mukonoweshuro said although the ruling ZANU-PF party would not meet the MDC demands for the implementation of a draft constitution, the opposition would go into next month’s elections with victory as its goal.

“We realize that the present regime is not interested in implementing the new constitution. But we also realize that the people of Zimbabwe would like an opportunity to show their disgust to this regime. And we believe that even under unfair and unfree conditions that would be registered for the international community to see,” Mukonoweshuro pointed out.

He, however, expressed optimism the opposition MDC would win next month’s elections.

“We believe in the strength of numbers that support the Movement for Democratic Change. We believe that our strength of numbers would create such a deluge that even Mr. Mugabe’s rigging mechanism might not be able to nullify the people’s voice,” he said.