The decision by the MDCs to gang up with other political parties outside the inclusive government — Zapu, Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) and Zanu Ndonga — to resist President Robert Mugabe’s bid to stampede elections without reforms necessary for a free and fair election, is a welcome one.
It is a rare characteristic for politicians putting aside their differences and placing the interests of the nation ahead.
This in our view is true patriotism, not the warped sense exhibited by Zanu PF of the concept which says if you do not agree with them, you are unpatriotic no matter how weird their ideas are. The ruling by the Constitutional Court to have the elections by July 31 has been greeted with enthusiasm by Zanu PF and Mugabe who ironically was the first respondent in the case.
He did not waste time pledging to comply with the order as if constitutionalism runs in his blood.
Something which he can still do now in view of the numerous outstanding issues is the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which contains pre-conditions for a free and fair election. As aptly articulated by South African President Jacob Zuma’s international relations adviser Lindiwe Zulu, the Southern African Development Community wants to avoid a repeat of the bloody 2008 poll. She was referring to the 2008 presidential run-off which was dismissed as a sham after the other candidate MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the race because of the violence that engulfed the country.
It is now as clear as the difference between night and day that Zanu PF’s political theatrics, including posturing as a party which wants elections to be held on June 29, are an attempt to wriggle its way out of the quagmire of having to implement reforms necessary for free and fair elections as spelt out in the GPA.
One does not need to be a rocket scientist to tell why Zanu PF can’t countenance the idea of a reformed public broadcaster which is fair to all political players in its coverage and soldiers who pursue their constitutional mandate of serving or protecting Zimbabwe rather than being reduced to instruments of the “revolutionary” party.
The coalition against Mugabe on the issue of poll dates is right to say steps should be taken to follow the Sadc roadmap to elections and to expect the Sadc summit on Zimbabwe in Mozambique to re-affirm that position. As Tsvangirai put it on Wednesday in a Press conference after the meeting of the coalition, there is need to repeal draconian pieces of legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act before the polls.
To add to the confusion, on Wednesday Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede announced the 30-day mandatory voter registration exercise would start on June 9, which means the earliest elections can be held is August 9, which is beyond the July 31 deadline set by the Constitutional Court.
The sensible thing to do in the circumstances is for Mugabe to go back to the Constitutional Court and ask for more time to prepare for a credible election.