Tsvangirai takes crisis to Sadc

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai today meets Sadc chairperson Jakaya Kikwete over Zimbabwe’s political problems, as preparations for a watershed election scheduled for later this year threaten to tear the coalition government apart.

The meeting with Kikwete in Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam, is part of a blitz planned by Tsvangirai to update regional leaders on the situation in Harare, with a hope that they can nudge President Robert Mugabe into accepting media and security sector reforms.

Minister of State in Tsvangirai’s office Jameson Timba confirmed the meeting.

“The Prime Minister is meeting the Sadc chairperson tomorrow (today) to discuss the conditions under which the elections are to be held particularly ways of protecting the voter and the vote itself. Other outstanding issues of the (power-sharing) Global Political Agreement, including media reforms and security sector realignment, will also come under discussion,” said Timba.

Signs are Mugabe and Tsvangirai are moving further apart as the election nears.

For example, a mobile voter registration blitz agreed to by Mugabe and Tsvangirai scheduled to start today is already up in smoke, a move signalling the height of mistrust and discord in Zimbabwe’s shaky “unity” government.

Eight million dollars has been pumped into the blitz, but Tsvangirai’s MDC and the formation led by Industry minister Welshman Ncube say the period allocated to it is illegitimate.

Added to this, Home Affairs co minister Theresa Makone, whose ministry is in charge of government departments responsible for voter registration, claims to have unearthed “massive” irregularities on the voters’ roll.

From today until May 19, officials from the Registrar-General’s office are expected to move to every corner of the country to start a blitz aimed at mopping potential voters who are not on the voters’ roll ahead of the harmonised elections sometime this year.

In a statement last week, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede said his officials would be camped in 1 958 wards countrywide.

But Tsvangirai and Ncube’s parties are raising a storm arguing that the recently-adopted draft constitution should be formally adopted first and the date for its coming into effect promulgated in the government gazette before a 30-day voter registration and voters’ roll inspection blitz begins.

The former opposition parties say the process should enable aliens who have not voted since independence from Britain in 1980 to acquire proper documents that allows them to vote in line with the recently-endorsed new draft constitution.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said Mudede’s announcement was at variance with what was agreed to by “all political parties” in their election roadmap and with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

 “We don’t know what Mudede is talking about when he says the duration of the voter registration blitz is three weeks. This is just a mobile voter registration exercise,” said Mwonzora.

“What we know, according to the new draft constitution and the election road map agreed to by political parties, is that we will conduct the national registration blitz and it takes not less than 30 days.

“The process must be long enough to allow everyone to register, including the so-called aliens, and we will make sure this happens because that is also the agreement between political parties and Zec,” said Mwonzora.

Ncube’s MDC spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube described today’s voter registration exercise as “just a normal” voter registration that is an ongoing process nationwide.

“I don’t think he (Mudede) is talking about the accelerated national voter registration exercise that is carried out whenever elections are due. That one requires not less than 30 days according to the law and when one looks at the time allocated for this one it is clear that what is going to happen on Monday (today) is part of the ongoing exercise,” Dube said.

Voter registration was supposed to have started on January 3, 2013 but failed to take off because Treasury argued there were other budgetary demands.

Voter registration is a continuous process, but government conducts a registration blitz towards each election to cater for people who would not have registered.

For these elections, aliens are expected to vote for the first time after being granted voting rights in the new constitution.

The voters’ roll is ward-based and one is required to produce proof of residence to be registered as a voter in that particular area. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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