Zuma should remain steadfast

As Zanu PF’s push for polls by March next year with or without reforms continues, a voice of reason has emerged from Zimbabwe’s facilitator to the Global Political Agreement and South African President  Jacob Zuma.

Zuma, speaking on South African television channel eTV’s
Africa 360 programme this week, said it would be suicidal for the country to go to the polls without an enabling environment.

Such an eventuality would very likely result in a repeat of the 2008 electoral bloodbath which resulted in Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, then President Robert Mugabe’s arch-rival, pulling out, citing violence.

Sadly Zanu PF and the two MDCs have already agreed to the holding of elections next year with a lot of work still to be done to avoid a repeat of June 2008.

“It is a view of all parties there that by next year we should have elections,” said Zuma.

“I think the question then is how do we prepare the ground because if we are all agreed that we should have elections then we should say how do we prepare the environment so that the environment will be conducive indeed for elections. We don’t want to have another election with problems.  We want elections that will produce a free and fair result.”

With the country preparing for the landmark polls, Zuma should remain steadfast and ensure the country adheres to the minimum Sadc election guidelines.

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According to the Sadc Grand Baie guidelines, when a member state decides to hold elections, it should ensure full participation of citizens in the political process, freedom of association, political tolerance, regular intervals for elections as provided for by the respective national constitutions and equal opportunity for all political parties to access the public media.

Six months before the holding of elections, some of the key ingredients to ensure a free poll are yet to be put in place. We still have a police force that is perceived to be sympathetic to Zanu PF.

No meaningful voter education has taken place and, worse still, the voters’ roll remains in a shambles.

Sadc, as the guarantor to the GPA, should ensure full compliance in order to avoid the 2008 debacle where innocent lives where lost. Some of the key reforms required before the polls include freeing the airwaves mainly television, as ZBC remains a Hobson’s choice, forcing millions of information-hungry Zimbabweans to turn to satellite free-to-air networks.

There is no need to rush to hold elections without proper reforms. It can only hurt the country’s future peace and economic growth prospects. Zimbabwe has  a lot to learn from its neghbours when it comes to the peaceful transfer of power. It has happened in Malawi, Botswana, Zambia and recently Ghana.

There is no reason why it shouldn’t happen here.

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