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‘Zim not ready to hold elections’

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ZIMBABWE is not ready to hold free and fair elections this year as there is little space for opposition politics in the country, the Institute for Democracy in Southern Africa (Idasa) has said.

Report by Moses Matenga

The regional think-tank also accused the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) of failing to fulfil its mandate to stop the Zanu PF dominance and the structures responsible for the 2008 bloody campaign.

In a research paper titled Ready or not? Elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe 2013, Idasa said the country’s playing field was not level.

The report comes at a time Zimbabwe is expected to hold a constitutional referendum on March 16 and to go for polls later this year.

Apart from pointing the finger at Zanu PF, the research also blamed the MDC parties for failing to make good use of their parliamentary majority to push for reforms.

Idasa is an independent public interest organisation that strives to build sustainable democratic societies in collaboration with African and global partners.

“There is little space for opposition politics and therefore inadequate oversight . . . In Zimbabwe, Zanu PF continues to dominate the political arena. In both cases, the use of State resources for personal and party gain is common. For this reason, no level playing field has been created in either country (Zimbabwe and Kenya) for fair elections to take place,” the report read.

“In contrast (with Kenya), the Zimbabwean process is incomplete and highly politicised. In addition, the draft that has been released does not address contentious issues adequately such as dilution of presidential powers and devolution. In both cases, repressive legislation remains in the statutes.

“This situation is exacerbated by a lack of enforcement of the GPA (Global Political Agreement) reforms by the Sadc mediators. It is also considered a shortcoming of the MDC formations that, despite holding a majority in Parliament, they have not pursued possibilities for legislative reform vigorously.”

The report bemoaned the presence of perpetrators of violence in influential positions in both Zimbabwe and Kenya.

“ . . . Those who committed the crimes are often still in power, which leads to them blocking any actions aimed at addressing the violations. For this reason, there is a grave potential in both
countries for renewed electoral violence.”

Pedzisayi Ruhanya, a local analyst, predicted a “bloody” election worse than the 2008 presidential runoff, saying: “It will be terror and psychological warfare or harvest of fear. There will be incidents of terror and this time well-coordinated by Zanu PF and security operators.”

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