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Civic society, political groups oppose elections

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Civic society and some political groups have strongly condemned intentions by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to hold polls next year saying an election would bring back political and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe.

The elections, they said, would be against the will of the people of Zimbabwe who were still smarting from the violence that characterised the 2008 elections.

MDC99 president Job Sikhala said it was unfortunate that parties in the inclusive government were trying to frog-march Zimbabweans to elections yet the Ministry of National Healing had done nothing to help disenfranchised societies.

Sikhala said his party would oppose any campaign to hold elections without a people-driven constitution and national healing.

Any suggestion of an election, he said, would invoke memories of the 2008 violence.

“We need healing first.

The people are still afraid of what President Mugabe and his people did to MDC supporters prior to the June 2008 presidential election re-run.

The recent Copac outreach programme can only bring out a Zanu PF constitution and we cannot be part of that process.

We know there are hundreds and thousands of ghost voters on the voters’ roll and it has to be cleaned first before we talk of elections,” Sikhala said.

“The Ministry of National Healing has failed the nation.

They have done nothing to heal the polarised society and that explains how far we are from conducting free and fair elections.

If people like Jabulani Sibanda can be allowed to do what they want then that is a problem.”

Leader of Mavambo/Khusile/Dawn party Simba Makoni told a gathering in Harare at the weekend that the environment was not yet conducive for elections and called for democratic reforms before politicians could start talking about elections.

Makoni, a former Zanu PF minister and politburo member said he would not participate in an election that would be conducted under the current environment.

Zanu (Ndonga) president Gondai Paul Vutuza, said although the environment was not yet conducive, an election was necessary.

The environment is not conducive but the truth of the matter is we cannot avoid an election forever.

It is a necessary evil we have to face at all costs to get rid of (President) Mugabe,” he said.

Save for the smaller MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara, other signatories to the GPA have started gearing up for the national polls.

Hundreds of Zimbabweans died while thousands others were injured in political violence two years ago.
Tsvangirai last week assured his party supporters that the next elections would be violent free.

He said he was mobilising local, regional and international powers to stop terror campaigns.

President Mugabe also told youths from his party that they should not engage in violent campaigns.

However, political temperatures in Zimbabwe seem to be rising.

Police last week barred Tsvangirai from addressing meetings in Budiriro, Glenview and Highfield.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of several civic society organisations has warned that Zimbabwe would plunge into violent political conflict if the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) failed to address outstanding issues that have drawn sharp differences within the unity government.

“Zimbabwe’s political environment remains poisoned with violence, intimidation and fear, despite the constitution of the National Security Council, which has failed to ensure meaningful civilian oversight over the security forces.

“Without external assistance from Sadc and its member states in the management of elections and in setting up mechanisms to prevent violence, the next election may be no different from the chaotic and violent June 2008 polls, if not worse,” the Coalition said at a meeting with President Jacob Zuma’s representative team in Johannesburg last week.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) spokesperson, Madock Chivasa, said a democratic people driven constitution was needed first as a way of ensuring that polls were free and fair.

“The present environment is not appropriate to conduct elections,” he said.

“Zanu PF still has a monopoly on state apparatus and the media.

The role of the army and the police is still not clearly defined and, most importantly, there is no guarantee that power can be transferred if the winner of such a poll is not Zanu PF.”

Platform for Youth Development (PYD) added its voice saying holding elections next year was frightening and nerve-racking because it is not anchored on genuine and careful consideration of potential politically motivated violence.

PYD director, Claris Madhuku, said merely calling for elections without reform was not only dangerous but suicidal.

“If given our way, the most ideal environment to hold elections is only when a genuine constitutional reform has been concluded,” said Madhuku.

“PYD notes that the current constitutional reform has failed by excluding the youth at every level.

It is therefore their moral right to reject it once it is brought to a referendum.

“Only until the environment to hold favorable elections is in place, can it be meaningful for the youths to participate with splendor.”

Madhuku said PYD was concerned by the acceleration of voices speaking in favor of holding elections in the country.

President Robert Mugabe a fortnight ago said elections were likely to be held mid next year.

The youth body said, having been a recipient of the June 2008 political violence at the instigation of President Mugabe’s Zanu PF, the possibility of a repeat of the violence was still high.

“The month of June remains predestined, and PYD fears the impact of this horror-month on the psyche of the voters,” said Madhuku.

“Shockingly, President of the MDC –T and Prime Minister of the inclusive government Morgan Tsvangirai insists that his party is ready to have elections any day that they are called.

Madhuku questioned the readiness of the citizens for elections and whether there were adequate resources to finance the elections.

“Is the administrator of the election (Zec) ready?

In short, do Zimbabweans feel that they are ready for these elections as championed by our political leadership?

A general survey from PYD membership concludes that unless some serious reforms are affected, Zimbabwe will continue to make headlines for the wrong reasons,” she said.

Pyd is a grassroots based youth organization, formed by victimised youths, to act as a platform, network and bridge for the youth to articulate issues affecting them.

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