Some Zimbabweans are reportedly upset with leaders of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after the party announced it would accept regional observers ahead of a possible run-off election. They contend that observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) failed to tell the truth, by declaring the election free and fair after the MDC claimed the ruling ZANU-PF government rigged the March 29 election to force a run-off.
Some political analysts say by agreeing to accept only what the government described as friends of Zimbabwe to monitor the poll, the MDC is allowing the ruling party to possibly rig the election thereby helping to perpetuate President Robert Mugabe’s 28-year old uninterrupted rule. Glen Mpani is the regional coordinator for transitional justice program for the Center of the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Zimbabweans are justified in their disappointment in the MDC leadership.
“The demands by Zimbabweans that there is need to widen the organizations that are allowed to observe elections are quite legitimate and quite valid. I think this has been a thorny issue regarding the elections in Zimbabwe that the current bodies that are not there, they are not impartial that is from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, from the African countries that have observed previous elections and they have passed judgment that the elections have been free and fair,” Mpani noted.
He said some Zimbabweans are beginning to lose confidence in both local and regional poll observers.
“They (local and regional poll observers) have not really exercised their role effectively. And I think the reason why Zimbabweans are calling for other bodies outside of the normal friendly countries to Zimbabwe is to try and be sure that the process is neutral, is impartial and above board can allow result that cannot be contested by either party. So, that is why they want other bodies to observe this election, more so in the contest of the environment that is raging across the country. And in an environment where the militia and the police are taking an active in the electoral process that is going to be coming up,” he said.
Mpani said it was unlikely for incumbent President Mugabe would hand over power to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“He would not hand over power to anyone. Mugabe has set himself on a process where he is prepared to be a dictator where he is prepared to harness all institutions and the authority that he has to ensure that he maintain his position in power. So, he is not going to hand over power. We should not be under any illusion that going for a run-off is going to solve our problems,” Mpani pointed out.
He said it would be difficult for the ruling party to accept defeat in the election run-off.
“It’s one thing to win an election in Zimbabwe and another to for the other party to accept it. I think our challenge in Zimbabwe has always been that ZANU-PF does not accept the concept of having an election. ZANU-PF believes that an election is free and fair when it is the sole winner. ZANU-PF will not allow MDC to take over power…we should take a cue from what happened in this election that we had where they withheld the election results for four months. One would imagine what they are going to do in this election if it comes out the same that the MDC has won. I don’t think they are going to announce and it they are not going to accept it,” he said.
Mpani said the Mugabe government is resorting to intimidation ahead of the election run-off.
“They have now resorted to relying on the army and the security agencies, and I think they are going to fortify that stands and rely on other processes to ensure that they maintain their position in authority. They are not going to accept any elections result. That is why it is important that if we want to come up with a peaceful resolution to Zimbabwe, it has to be a negotiated process rather than an election,” Mpani noted.
Meanwhile, the United States has reportedly condemned President Mugabe’s government for what it described as the harassment of the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats questioned by police after visiting post-election violence victims at a hospital. But the Zimbabwe government has rejected the condemnation, saying their trip was not sanctioned.