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Briefing paper on the 2008 presidential elections in Zimbabwe
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
January, 2007

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Since its inception in August 2001, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has become one of the critical voices within the civic movement in Zimbabwe's trajectories of democratic governance and political accountability. This paper is one in a series, produced periodically by the Coalition focusing on important issues related to the national question and progress being made towards the resolution of the national governance and legitimacy crisis.

Apart from setting the platform for national dialogue on ZANU PF's bid to postpone the 2008 presidential elections, this paper also seeks to raise alarm on the injustices associated with this bid. Section 1 briefly deals with the genesis of the Zimbabwean crisis, Section II focuses on the postponement of the 2008 elections vis-a vis the dictates of the SADC Guidelines governing democratic elections. Lastly Section III focuses on the role of various stakeholders, e.g. political parties, CSOs, the academia, the church, media and diplomatic community etc in aborting ZANU PF's bid to cheat Zimbabweans.

The socio-economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe has intensified in the past eight years. The crisis deepened following Zimbabwe's suspension and subsequent withdrawal from the Commonwealth in December 2003 largely because of continued human rights abuses and what appeared to be a deliberate violation of the Harare principles with regard to the conditions of the 2002 disputed presidential election.

The democratic governance deficit identified by the Commonwealth Troika led by Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo and Prime Minister John Howard of South Africa, Nigeria and Australia respectively remain largely unresolved as Zimbabwe approaches another crucial election in 2008, which the ZANU PF-led government has expressed an intention to postpone. The ZANU PF conference held in December 2006 recommended to its Central Committee for both presidential and parliamentary elections to be postponed to 2010 contrary to the provisions of the constitutional provisions and without a referendum to get the views of Zimbabweans.

In particular, the electoral environment remains largely uneven. Further the government of Zimbabwe has reneged on promises it made to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa regarding the progressive review of Apartheid-style legislation such as AIPPA and POSA and its commitment to introducing democratic governance. Repressive laws remain in place in the form of the Criminal Law Reform and Codification Act, Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act, the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, to mention but a few. The infrastructure of violence - especially the green bombers - is still intact. Although the youth militia has been demobilized to give an impression of peace and tranquility prevailing in the country, their presence within communities is enough intimidation to the people.

Despite some minor and cosmetic changes which the ZANU PF politburo has introduced such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that is supposed to independently administer elections, the electoral laws remain heavily weighted/tilted in favour of the incumbent. The electoral processes and institutions continue to be militarized or Zanunized.1

1. Zanunisation" refers to a process whereby state institutions are staffed exclusively by ZANU PF members and sympathizers.

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