PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party will not “reform itself out of power” and will need to be nudged in that direction by all Zimbabweans, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti has said.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Biti told his party’s general council meeting in Harare yesterday that the PDP leadership was in “talks” with other opposition parties and could announce a coalition early 2016.
“Zanu PF will not reform itself out of power. Zimbabweans should never be satisfied with mortgaging their struggle to political parties. It is up to the youths, churches, women, civic society and all of us to force Zanu PF to make the necessary conditions to allow Zimbabweans a free and fair election,” Biti said.
Mugabe’s administration has been dragging its feet regarding the re-alignment of a plethora of legal statutes following the adoption of the new Constitution two years ago. Officials indicate that besides electoral laws. At least 400 instruments will need to be reconfigured in line with the new governance charter.
Biti’s indication of a possible coalition comes just a day after reports that major opposition leaders in Zimbabwe had snubbed a call by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to sign a collective petition demanding reforms.
The former Prime Minister also wants opposition parties to steer clear of any election if Mugabe does not institute in particular electoral reforms.
“We are talking to progressive parties. They are happy to talk to us and value us. However, we must apologise as a collective, the opposition parties, to Zimbabweans for failing to work together. Early next year, we should be able to make public announcement on this issue,” Biti said.
“We have little time left because we are just over 36 months before the next election. But for us in the PDP, the precondition for a coalition is a strong party. We will not just go into a coalition to make up the numbers, but we will put ideas and structures on the table. A grand coalition is necessary, but not a sufficient precondition for change in Zimbabwe. Without electoral reforms we are going nowhere.”
Zimbabwe is bracing for a new round of polls in 2018, with Mugabe having already declared he will contest the elections for the umpteenth time as a presidential candidate for Zanu PF when he will be 94.
Biti said opposition parties should demand a biometric voters’ roll, arguing that it is not as expensive as Zanu PF would want people to believe.
“We will not buy the argument that it is expensive because we are already issuing out biometric identity cards. There is your fingerprint and face on the national identity card. That is biometric and the cost is the same,” the former Treasury chief said.
“We also demand the demilitarisation of elections. Zimbabwe can best be described as a securocratic State. But we are saying to the military, keep out of electoral systems and afford Zimbabweans a fair chance to choose the leaders they want and deserve.”