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Hope for Zimbabwe Political Dialogue Fades - 2003-08-05


Hopes of dialogue between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition faded Tuesday when both sides got into an argument over candidates for local elections.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Tuesday it had lost all trust in the ruling Zanu-PF party when it broke a gentlemen's agreement not to obstruct a court petition over local elections.

The dispute arose over an agreement that Zanu-PF would investigate why all opposition candidates in local elections in Chegutu, a small town in central Zimbabwe, were unable to register with nomination courts last month.

Several opposition candidates were attacked by what the MDC says were Zanu-PF militants while on the way to the nomination courts to register for the elections. Several candidates ended up in the hospital.

Last week the MDC applied for the nomination courts to be reopened and said it was led to believe Zanu-PF would not oppose such a move.

But instead, Zanu-PF's candidates, who were already declared winners because they were unopposed at the nomination court in Chegutu, filed papers Tuesday to challenge the MDC application.

Lawyers acting for the 11 MDC candidates said they hoped the dispute would go to court Wednesday.