THE United States and international civic organisations are piling pressure on President Robert Mugabe to hold free and fair polls, but hinted it was difficult for Mugabe to relinquish power if he lose in the forthcoming harmonised elections.
REPORT BY STAFF REPORTER
Giving testimonies in Washington during the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on Zimbabwe, organisations represented said prospects of a free and fair election were low due to increased intimidation and influence of the army chiefs.
The army bosses have declared their allegiance to Zanu PF.
Chair of the subcommittee Senator Christopher Coons said there was growing concern on government’s untruthfulness to Sadc and the international community to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
“I am concerned by recent reports that the Zimbabwean government is not working in good faith with Sadc and other international partners to ensure these elections will be free and fair, especially considering the lengths to which Mugabe and his Zanu PF loyalists went to preserve power in 2008,” Coons said.
“I am also alarmed by the uptick in targeted harassment and intimidation of the civil society leaders and human rights defenders who are seeking to ensure a just contest. Leaders of the security forces are openly partisan and using their positions to suppress democratic expression, and there are reports that diamond revenues are being diverted to the security forces for political purposes.”
Todd Moss of the Centre for Global Development said it was too late to guarantee free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
“It’s already far too late for a free and fair election in 2013. The Zanu PF intimidation machine has been running full steam for the past five years and the systematic campaign of fear is already in place. Thus we shouldn’t be surprised if election day passes peaceably,” Moss said.
“Even if Mugabe somehow loses, Zanu PF won’t allow Morgan Tsvangirai to become President. We know this because it has already happened in 2008. And if the outcome is already decided, then how can we possibly ever declare it a competitive election?”
He said the US government should stop being passive and “get creative.
“Zimbabwe doesn’t want to remain a pariah state, so let’s leverage that. Refuse to endorse a sham election.”
He said the US must not rush into normalising relations with Zimbabwe until reforms are met.
Human Rights Watch Africa division senior researcher Dewa Mavinga said the US must work in the best interests of Zimbabwe to minimise the risk of sliding back to 2008 crisis.