Calling for elections next year could isolate Zimbabwe from the region which has helped deliver it out of a decade-long economic, political and social problems, the MDC-M secretary for legal affairs, David Coltart, has said.
Coltart told a constituency roundtable that according to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), there were still six issues that remained to be dealt with before the country could hold elections.
“The GPA sets out between eight and nine stages that have to take place. The reality is that we have only been through three stages and we are left with six.
“The GPA says between the second constitutional reform stakeholders’ conference and the referendum, there had to be three months. We are not anywhere near that. After the referendum, there has to be two months before it (the constitution) becomes law,” he said.
Coltart said if the election was to be held next year, it would not be in compliance with the GPA.
“We will have to tear up the GPA. Professor (Welshman) Ncube (MDC secretary-general) says the earliest time we can have a referendum is June next year. That is in six months from now. I think he is being sensible. That means it’s not possible to have elections next year.
“If we have it (the election), it will be against the spirit of the GPA. The party that pushes for the election will be going against (South African) President (Jacob) Zuma and other brokers of the GPA,” he said.
The GPA was signed in September 2008 after months of protracted negotiations led by the then South African President Thabo Mbeki, and was hailed as an African solution to an African problem.
The South African President, Sadc and the African Union are the guarantors of the GPA.
Zanu PF and MDC-T have called for the holding of elections next year to dissolve the GPA, which both parties felt has become a weight on their necks.
MDC-M led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has insisted conditions were not conducive for the holding of the elections next year.
“One of the key constitutional question concerns the separation of powers and the electoral system to be used during elections. If we follow the Westminster system, where if a candidate wins in a constituency they become the MP, then it’s easier to hold elections.
“However, if we have a proportional representation system or the hybrid system that Zanu PF is proposing, there is a challenge of delimiting constituencies. You can only start delimiting constituencies if you know what type of system you have,” Coltart said.
Coltart said it was worrying that at the moment there was a lot of rhetoric about the elections despite the problems that such a plebiscite would cause.
“There is a lot of talk about elections next year which would be the breaking-up of the GPA. It means divorce of the parties. No one denies that elections should take place, but the questions are: are the conditions conducive for an election and is it possible to have this election and still stick to this roadmap (GPA)?
“If you speak to churches, they don’t want elections because the country is at a point where it is slowly healing. If you speak to businesspeople, Zanu PF organised a meeting with businesspeople last week, they don’t want an election,” he said.
Coltart said the inclusive government was fragile but remained the best way forward for the country and that was why the parties were sticking to it.
“It is a fragile agreement and we should not be surprised by this. In this arrangement everyone came kicking and screaming. No one wanted it but there was no option. However what is remarkable is that we are still in this marriage, 21 months on.
“Despite our reservations about this arrangement, we are now better off. Schools are now open, clinics are open, and airports are being repaired. The country is moving forward,” he said.