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No election before reforms
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
March 16, 2012

As Crisis in Zimbabwe, we totally reject continued calls for early elections by ZANU PF and its functionaries. We reiterate our position that credible, legitimate, free and fair elections cannot be held unless genuine reforms (as agreed and provided for in the Global Political Agreement) are carried out.

We view the continued calls for early polls as absurd and premature and as a grand strategy to obstruct the inclusive government from putting in place reforms which create conditions necessary for the holding of democratic elections. This is by no means isolated from the continued partisan conduct of various state institutions such as the army, police and traditional leaders which severely undermine prospects of credible elections. In addition, the Coalition is concerned about the partisan conduct of traditional leaders, who endorsed Mugabe as ZANU PF presidential candidate and declared that a re ready for elections at the just ended traditional leaders' annual conference. The traditional leaders' track record of intimidating and encouraging violence against perceived MDC supporters in their communities is now a matter of public record. In 2008, state-sponsored violence (in some instances, the army and traditional leaders as the perpetrators), reversed the electoral will of the people of Zimbabwe and entrenched President Robert Mugabe's rule.

While we appreciate that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has new commissioners, most of its current employees (including former military personnel and state security agents) presided over the sham 2008 elections and are publicly seen as retrogressive and partisan.

We also not with grave concern that structures of violence (quasi-military structures like war veterans and militias), used during the run-up to the June 2008 presidential election run-off, continue to be active thus posing a serious threat to human security at community level should the election dates be declared.

We wish to remind the inclusive government that restrictive laws which inhibit free expression, association and movement of people of Zimbabwe such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) are still in place. We demand that amendments to POSA, that were introduced in Parliament in 2011 and stalled by ZANU PF on the 14th of March 2012 when it decided that the bill should only be discussed under GPA and not amended in Parliament, be brought back to the August house as a democratic procedure.

The culture of rule of law and due process of the law continues to be subverted by selective applications of the law and the partisan nature of the police-which remains an obstacle to the holding of peaceful elections. The Coalition remains concerned that electoral reforms promised in the GPA remain outstanding more than three years after the formation of the inclusive government.

Before the holding of elections, the government of Zimbabwe must guarantee the rights of citizens to participate freely in choosing a government of their choice as provided for in the African Charter of Human and People's Rights (ACHPR).

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition reiterates that the position of civil society organisations in Zimbabwe is that 2012 is a year for democratic reforms which, if implemented, will create a conducive environment for the holding of elections. To that end, The Coalition demands that the inclusive government carries out the following reforms ahead of the holding of elections;

  • Establishment of a new constitution approved in a referendum.
  • Depoliticisation of state institutions to ensure their independence and non-partisanship.
  • Legislative reforms to repeal all draconian pieces of legislation which impede fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression and association.
  • Removal of all military and state security agents from the employment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to guarantee the electoral body's independency and professionalism.
  • Updating and revising the voters' roll and a civil society driven voter education programme.
  • Ensuring that election monitors and observers are deployed at least six months before and six months after elections to minimize violence and ensure security of persons.
  • Creation of environment which encourage participation of marginalised groups including women and people with Disabilities.
  • Instituting wide-ranging media reforms including transforming state-broadcaster into a non-partisan public broadcaster and introducing multiple, independent actors in the media industry.
  • Creation of conditions for free and fair elections in line with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines for Democratic Elections.

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