HomeLocal NewsTsvangirai takes poll ‘war’ to Sadc

Tsvangirai takes poll ‘war’ to Sadc

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PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party will take its fight for electoral reforms to next week’s Sadc summit in Mozambique following President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s determined push for a “stampeded election” without reforms, party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said yesterday.

REPORT BY EVERSON MUSHAVA

The MDC-T’s decision to mount pressure on Mugabe comes at a time the Constitutional Court last Friday ruled that elections should be held by July 31, a verdict Mugabe and his party quickly embraced.

Mugabe, who is currently in Japan, declared he would proclaim dates for the polls upon his return home this week.

But the MDC-T said while it accepted the court verdict, the party would mount pressure on Mugabe at the Sadc summit to ensure the implementation of all agreed reforms before the elections could be held.

A successful MDC-T push would most likely mean a change of the date dictated by the court because it would be practically impossible to fit in all the electoral reforms and other pre-poll requirements before July 31.

“For the MDC, it is not about the date for the elections, but the conditions under which those elections are held,” Mwonzora said. “Our thrust is that elections must be held in Zimbabwe, but these elections must be free and fair. We are going to Sadc to push the agenda of electoral reforms, which are derived from constitutional provisions.

Mwonzora said the net effect of the judgment by the Constitutional Court read by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku was that Zimbabwe was a country guided by laws and it would never break its own laws, a stance Mwonzora said justified the reform agenda because all the issues his party was raising were provided for in the new Constitution.

“All the reforms which the MDC is demanding are driven from clear constitutional provisions. The net effect of the judgment is that all the reforms should be made, especially where the reforms have the force of the law. We will use this judgment to justify our push for reforms.

“All we want is Sadc to help Zimbabwe abide by its Constitution,” Mwonzora said.

The MDC-T has been calling for several reforms, chief among which being security sector realignment and media reforms, but Zanu PF, which has been enjoying a cordial relationship with the uniformed forces, has stiffly resisted such reforms.

The MDC-T argued an election without reforms would result in a repeat of the violent 2008 presidential run-off poll whose outcome was rejected.

Mwonzora said it was still possible to effect the reforms within the remaining period leading to the July 31 poll timeline as all the reforms required less time except voter registration and voters’ roll inspection, while the rest simply required political will.

Under the new Constitution, a 30-day mandatory voter registration exercise will have to be conducted, followed by 14 days needed for the nomination of candidates at the nomination court and an additional 30 days preceding the election date for campaigning and other electoral preparations.

Mwonzora, however, said the 30-day voter registration period could run concurrently with 44 days between proclamation of the election date and the voting day.

The MDC-T has said it was now ready for elections, having already begun its candidate selection process. All the party needed was a conducive environment to participate in the polls.

On the other hand, Zanu PF’s poll plans seem to be in disarray due to factional fights that have reportedly delayed its candidate selection process and presentation of its election manifesto, among other critical electoral requirements. The party has also recently been reported to be broke and unable to pay its core workers.

Nonetheless, Mugabe’s party has remained steadfast in demanding an early election.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo recently said the issue of money would not deter the party from going ahead with elections.

Meanwhile, Zanu PF has reportedly ordered prospective contestants to stop campaigning on the grounds that the party had not yet set its electoral rules for primaries. The only campaigning that has been sanctioned is that for the party leader, Mugabe.

Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa yesterday said his party accepted the court judgment and that it was ready for polls. He, however, refused to comment on whether Zanu PF had enough time to hold its candidate-picking primaries, saying the issue was a private internal matter for the party.

But he disclosed that he was aware aspiring candidates were already campaigning — even without the party’s permission or against the rules. “People are campaigning, we know it. Those who say they are not campaigning are lying to you,” Mutasa said.

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