With the election talk by President Robert Mugabe escalating, several politically-motivated violence cases have been reported, the latest being last Saturday’s violent clashes at Chimukoko Business Centre, Mudzi, which claimed the life of an MDC-T activist, Cephas Magura (67).
This has raised genuine fears that the election Mugabe is calling for will be a repeat of the sham June 2008 presidential runoff, which was characterised by State-sponsored violence against MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s party and supporters. Tsvangirai claimed that over 200 people were murdered by State security agents, war veterans and Zanu PF militia in a bloody campaign to retain Mugabe’s presidency.
The cold-blooded killing of Magura is a wake-up call to Zimbabweans that the country is not yet ready for elections.
The violence occurred at a time when Sadc Heads of State are meeting at an extraordinary summit in Angola at the weekend. This is an opportunity for the regional leaders to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis once and for all. Sadc should force Mugabe to back down on his call for early polls without reforms to allow violence-free and fair elections.
Mugabe (88), who is fighting to beat advanced age, is keen to have elections this year without implementing electoral reforms and has been reportedly lobbying regional leaders to endorse his early poll push.
This is despite the call by United Nations Human Rights chief Navanethem Pillay, who was in the country for a rights assessment mission last week. Pillay warned Mugabe and Tsvangirai to implement reforms, no matter the time required, than to rush for early elections. She warned that rushed polls could be “catastrophic” for the country.
With these developments, South African President Jacob Zuma, whose facilitation team was in the country on Monday to check the progress made in the implementation of the reforms by the inclusive government, should be hard on Mugabe to ensure that Zimbabwe does not slide back to the June 2008 violence.
Sadc should not be fooled by Mugabe’s political gimmicks. The regional bloc should stand firm and tell the Zanu PF leader – no reforms, no elections.
The regional bloc should also take seriously remarks by Patrick Chinamasa, Justice and Legal Affairs minister, that soldiers can meddle in politics, against the laws of the country and international best practice.
Chinamasa’s statements were unfortunate considering that the wounds inflicted on the general populace by the brutal army campaigning for Mugabe in 2008 are still fresh. Zimbabwe needs reforms now, not elections. That was the whole purpose of the Sadc involvement.
Mugabe should implement outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement, a Sadc-negotiated political solution to Zimbabwe which gave birth to the inclusive government.
Zimbabwe must do what it said. That is the rule of law.