A university professor has described as questionable Zimbabwe’s electoral commission’s announcement Wednesday that it is prepared to organize elections next year.
John Makumbe, political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe, told VOA time is too short for the commission to resolve all outstanding issues ahead of the vote.
“Less than two weeks ago, they (electoral commission) were saying they are not able to conduct elections next year because they are not ready. There is no money, the voter register is shambolic (chaotic) and, all of a sudden, after (Mr.) Mugabe has said elections next year, midyear, they are suddenly ready. So, that raises a lot of suspicions.”
Joyce Kazembe, acting head of the electoral body, announced that the electoral commission will be ready to organize the poll after President Robert Mugabe’s “proclamation.”
Last week, Mr. Mugabe called for new elections announcing the current power-sharing government should not be renewed when it expires in February.
Local media quoted Kazembe as saying, “Our mandate is to implement presidential proclamations as, and when, they are made. If a proclamation is made, we implement it.”
But, last month, a top official of the same electoral body was quoted as saying there is lack of funds to carry out much-needed reforms ahead of the election.
Simpson Mutambanengwe, who was recently chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, said, “The timeframe is no longer what appears to be envisaged by the political parties because we have a very big task. The biggest challenge is financial resources to conduct elections. We are engaging various stakeholders and the political parties over electoral reforms. As it is, the voters' roll is in disarray.”
Makumbe said Zimbabweans are ready to vote in an election, but contends that the current political climate is not encouraging to organize a credible vote.
“I think they are, (but) unfortunately, the environment is not conducive to the holding of free and fair elections. There is still plenty of violence taking place. And, this violence was following the constitutional outreach meeting. There is a lot of polarization among the people. (Mr.) Mugabe and (Prime Minister Morgan) Tsvangirai are hardly talking to each other.”
Critics say senior officials of the electoral commission seem to be sympathetic to President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party adding that it will undermine the credibility of the election.