SA resistance to Mugabe ‘fast-track’ poll laudable

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The stance South Africa has taken to reject attempts by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to bulldoze Zimbabweans into another very likely bloody, unfree and unfair election is certainly sweet music to the ears of the citizens of this country.

That position should also help counsel Morgan Tsvangirai and those in his MDC-T party who, for inconceivable reasons, had become “warm” to the idea of an early election in a rigged political terrain.

It is intriguing — in fact a frightful mystery — why and how the former ruling party, Zanu PF, seems to believe it has the mandate of the people of Zimbabwe to single-handedly run this country.
Zimbabweans have, through countless polls, made it clear they are not prepared for elections now, that they are still healing from the 2008 election of bloodshed and broken limbs.

The people are justifiably surprised at the apparent certainty with which Mugabe and his party believe they can call and cause elections to be held in this country as early as this year, even when citizens of Zimbabwe agree with the country’s peacemakers, Sadc, that it is not possible to have free and fair elections now — for various reasons.

Zimbabweans have for years looked to South Africa for intervention that could bring sanity to the country’s political landscape but after Thabo Mbeki’s “quiet diplomacy”’ experience they felt badly let down. The arrival of a more combative Jacob Zuma rekindled hope, but as months passed, Zimbabweans again began to lose that hope.

Hope has returned again with the development in the South African parliament on Monday, where that country’s Foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, made an unequivocal statement to the effect that South Africa would not accept any deviance by Zimbabwe’s political players from the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which clearly says “NO” to elections without a clear and agreed roadmap.

“The GPA envisages that an election in Zimbabwe will only be held following the finalisation of the constitution-making process. . . Our government therefore expects that there would be no deviation from the provisions of the GPA,” the minister said.
Two weeks ago, Mugabe told the nation in a televised interview on the eve of his 88th birthday that nothing would stop him from calling for early elections.

“We just must have elections. They just must take place with or without a new Constitution. On our side as a party (Zanu PF), we made a decision, last year at our conference, that this year we definitely have an election exercise.

“If others do not want to have an election then they are free not to participate. Nobody is forced to go to an election, but definitely I will exercise my presidential powers (to proclaim an election).”

Tsvangirai should take note of the tone of Mugabe’s statements and make wise decisions before performing a somersault from his earlier stance declining a plebiscite without the requisite conditions. Rash decisions could have far-reaching consequences for Zimbabwe.