Tsvangirai pins down Mugabe

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will next week undertake an extensive regional tour to “sensitise” leaders on the problems Zimbabwe is facing in creating conditions for a free and fair poll.

The MDC leader wants Sadc to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe to implement reforms before elections.

Tsvangirai’s calls come at a time when Zimbabwe’s hardliners and hawks in Mugabe’s Zanu PF continue to demand an election without the necessary reforms as envisaged by regional power broker Sadc.

The MDC leader told journalists yesterday that there would be “no elections in Zimbabwe” until all reforms are implemented.

“I cannot take a negative position and say we will do this if reforms are not going to be implemented because there will be reforms and we want elections as soon as practically possible,” said Tsvangirai.

“The major stumbling block to the implementation to the above already agreed reforms remains a palpable deficit of political will to implement agreed issues, without which we are likely to reproduce electoral contestations and a disputed outcome,” he said.  

Tsvangirai said his party is disturbed by reports of the involvement of “spooky and shadowy elements in civilian issues of the voters’ roll and registration, with the Registrar-General (RG) being the civilian face and force of this murky system”.

Parties opposed to Mugabe’s rule early this week demanded that RG Tobaiwa Mudede be axed before expected make-or-break polls later this year allegedly because he has assisted Zanu PF’s rigging machinery in past elections.

“In a short while, I will be visiting players within Sadc and the African Union (AU) to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe are guaranteed of a free and fair election that will usher in a new dispensation.

“It is my fervent prayer that peace prevails in our beloved and beautiful country. Peace in the home, peace in the community, peace in all the four corners of our country,” the MDC president said.

Reports have indicated that security commanders accused of abusing their positions to campaign for Zanu PF and subvert the will of the people remain unrepentant, even in the face of pressure to depoliticise the security sector.

Tsvangirai said: “In the new Zimbabwe security sector realignment will be of paramount importance to make sure they understand their role in a democratic society.”

Following a blood spattered electoral run-off in 2008, Tsvangirai’s MDC was forced into a shaky coalition arrangement with Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

The coalition government was mandated with crafting a new constitution as well as setting an environment conducive to the holding of free and fair elections.

Tsvangirai said partners in the coalition government are alive to the fact that Sadc and the AU, as guarantors, are major stakeholders in determining the conditions and framework of a free and fair election and they will definitely be continuously consulted.

“But for us in the party of excellence, the people’s party, the MDC, it is clear that there are many issues that need to be addressed if we are to have a plebiscite that is free, fair and credible as envisaged under the GPA and, our brothers and sisters in the region,” the MDC leader said.

“While the process of the roadmap is being dealt with, there are many software and hardware issues we have to address if we are to hold a credible election, key among them the many reforms that we have agreed on as political parties and as Principals but remain unimplemented,” Tsvangirai said.

With time running out before the life of the current Parliament ends on June 29, Zimbabwe’s political protagonists have clashed on among other things issues, the dates of elections and accreditation of observers.

Tsvangirai demanded that there be inclusive invitation and accreditation of election observers six months before and after the election.

“The composition, structure and operations of the accreditation committee should reflect inclusivity and the true spirit of an independent Zec.

“Accreditation must be done in terms of the Sadc guidelines on elections whose purpose is to ensure total transparency of the electoral process as opposed to other parochial and partisan considerations which do not serve that purpose,” he said.

Citing the examples of successful elections that have been conducted in Zambia and Kenya, Tsvangirai said Zec must follow international best practice and undertake a transparent hiring while political parties need to be involved in ballot paper design and auditing, production process and distribution of ballots.

He said repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) have no role to play in a free and fair election as envisaged by Sadc guidelines on that subject.

He added that there is need to address the issue of the Zec secretariat to ensure impartiality, credibility and legitimacy in light of the 2008 electoral experience as well as extensive media reforms including registration of independent houses.

Tsvangirai reiterated his party’s call for the fulfilment of “minimum conditions for free and fair elections” that include guaranteeing the security of the vote, the security of the voter and the security of the outcome of the vote.

“All Zimbabweans must vote in peace without intimidation, victimisation, violence or being forced to attend a political meeting of this or that party. No “bases” and vigilante groups in our villages, suburbs or communities,” said Tsvangirai.

Torture bases sprung up during the run-off from which Tsvangirai pulled out at the eleventh hour citing systematic state sponsored violence that according to the MDC led to the disappearance and murder of over 200 of his supporters.

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