Zimbabwe should first address the culture of violence and intolerance that has characterised previous polls if it is to successfully hold credible, free and fair elections, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe has said.
He said foreign observers would be invited to witness and validate Zimbabwe’s next polls because they played a critical role in determining the credibility of the elections.
President Robert Mugabe has in the past rejected calls to bring in foreign election observers.
“Whatever we will do is going to be judged by local and foreign observers,” Justice Mutambanengwe said.
Speaking at a Political Dialogue series meeting last Friday organised by a local political think-tank, Justice Mutambanengwe said the commission could organise elections but had no control over violence.
“As a commission we can do everything to prepare for elections, but the key question we have to ask is, is there still a culture of violence?
“If the answer is yes, we then have to ask what the objectives of the liberation struggle were. Aren’t we going against the ideals and norms of
what we fought for – to create a just country that can organise free and fair elections?”
The Zec chairperson said the commission would welcome any form of support from Sadc towards organising elections.
Finance minister Tendai Biti has reportedly been directed by President Mugabe to allocate $200 million for elections in his forthcoming 2011 National Budget due to presented before the end of the year.
Mutambanengwe said if the country were to hold elections, next year, the funds had to be released as soon as possible.
Zec commissioner Geoff Feltoe said there were a number of key processes still taking place, including the programme for national healing.
He said Zec also had to plan for the impending constitution referendum next year.
Feltoe said political parties should bear in mind that there were issues of voter education that had to be attended to before an election was held.
He said the country should seriously consider the economic repercussions of holding elections given the country’s fragile economy.