President Robert Mugabe’s announcement that the referendum on the new constitution will be held next month, failure of which he will call for general elections, has been described as political grandstanding by his inclusive government partners.
Mugabe told the Zanu PF central committee on Friday he wanted the polls to end “this animal called inclusive government”.
But the two MDC formations in the inclusive government on Sunday said elections were not possible in Zimbabwe before reforms promised in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said his party wanted guarantees that there would be no State-sponsored violence during the polls in addition to new reforms.
“We maintain that the election date must be process-driven,” he said.
“The key fundamental reforms must be completed and these include the constitution, there must be mechanisms to arrest State-sponsored violence and if that is done, we can have elections any time, any minute,” he said.
Kurauone Chihwai, the deputy spokesperson for the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, said his party was not moved by Mugabe’s statements.
He said the 88-year-old Zanu PF leader did not have the authority to unilaterally make such decisions without the consent of his coalition government partners.
“President Mugabe thinks he has powers to call for elections yet he does not,” Chihwai said.
“We are not shaken by that, that’s political grandstanding that has been going on for some time. It’s a dream.” Contacted for comment, Sadc facilitator and South African President Jacob Zuma’s international relations adviser Lindiwe Zulu said there were certain issues the GPA specifically required done before elections could be held.
“Like we have said before, the comments by the leaders to their supporters is not our story,” she said.
“It’s not for us (Sadc-appointed mediators) to determine the date of the elections and we have said as far as we are concerned according to the GPA, certain things have to be agreed on which all the three parties understand. Our mandate is to see to it that all things have to be done, including the finalisation of the (election) roadmap.”
Chihwai said Mugabe would be in violation of the GPA if he attempted to bulldoze the country into an election.
“He is not being honest to his party supporters. If they go ahead, he would have defied Sadc and the AU (African Union) who are guarantors of the GPA and what it means is they will be creating more problems and will go back to square one.”
Mwonzora described Mugabe’s election position as “empty bravado”. He said in normal democracies, the promulgation of a new constitution did not guarantee constitutional order.
“Our issue has never been on when elections must be held, but an environment conducive for elections,” he said.
“We need media reforms, eradication of State-sponsored violence and that the police, spy agents and the army must not be involved in politics.
“Once that is done, Zimbabwe can have elections any time. So the quickest way for Zanu PF is to accede to demands for conditions for free and fair elections.You still have to put the constitution into practice and this takes a period of up to six months or so.”
Zimbabwe has held disputed elections since independence in 1980 and it was hoped a new constitution would help rehabilitate the country’s institutions, including those that organise polls.