No rush to hold polls — Ncube

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BULAWAYO — National elections should only be held when conditions for a free and fair contest have been put in place and the nation is ready for polls, the co-chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic), Welshman Ncube has said.
Jomic is tasked with monitoring compliance with and progress on all the provisions agreed upon by the three main political parties who appended their signatures to the Global Political Agreement.
Ncube – who is also the Minister of Industry and International Trade — was addressing traditional leaders from Matabeleland South and North provinces during a Jomic-organised meeting at a college in the city recently.
One of the traditional leaders had asked if there would be no problem should the new constitution fail to be in place by the time the lifespan of the inclusive government expires in 2011.
“The Global Political Agreement (GPA) does not say elections should be held after two years (from the formation of the inclusive government). It only provides for a review to check progress made. There is no obligation to have polls after two years,’’ said Ncube.
“After two years, we have to ask ourselves whether we have done our work. If our work is not over, we should then look at the time needed to wrap up things.
“Some of us were negotiators of that agreement and I tell you there is no need to rush an election without resolving issues.
“That’s what caused disputes that clouded the last elections. We run the risk of having the same problems if we just rush to hold elections in March next year, without resolving those problems. We will then have to go back and negotiate another GPA and that is something that no one wants.
We should be sure when we go to the polls that we will have free and fair polls whose results would be acceptable to everyone.”
He said in February next year the government should look at what would be the outstanding GPA issues then.
Ncube said he was happy Zanu PF and two MDC formations agreed on electoral reforms with an independent elections commission already in place.
Some of the reforms, he said, included the release of results within five days contrary to what transpired in the 2008 presidential polls, which were kept under wraps for almost two months.
On delays in the implementation of the some of the GPA provisions, Ncube said the problems were just a case of grandstanding by the politicians involved as well as other interests fuelled by external forces, in some instances.
Apart from traditional leaders from the two Matabeleland provinces led by the Vice-President of the Chiefs’ Council, Senator Mtshane Khumalo, Senator Fortune Charumbira, the President of the Chiefs’ Council also attended the meeting which is part of a series that Jomic is holding with traditional leaders.
Chiefs have been accused of being partisan hence the need to orientate them to be impartial, observers said.