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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
puts SADC to the test
Mail and Guardian (SA)
June 07, 2013
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on The Mail and Guardian (SA) website
African Development Community's summit to discern Zimbabwe's readiness
to hold legal and fair elections has been postponed.
African Development Community's (SADC) resolve to ensure a free
and fair election in Zimbabwe was this week dealt a blow after President
Robert Mugabe forced a delay of a summit in order to assess Zimbabwe's
preparedness for the polls.
Late on Thursday,
South Africa's department of international relations spokesperson
Clayson Monyela confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that Sunday's
summit had been postponed. When asked why the summit was postponed,
Monyela referred questions to SADC.
obtained by the M&G from SADC diplomats, Zimbabwe's main political
negotiators and South African President Jacob Zuma's facilitation
team shows there were likely to be explosive exchanges at the summit
because Zimbabwe's politicians remain divided on several issues.
Sources in Zanu-PF
said Mugabe had his arm twisted by Zuma at the recent African Union
meeting in Addis Ababa to agree to the summit so that SADC could
back the credibility of the election.
this week said Mugabe, who was in Japan, had phoned Zuma and told
him he needed more time to consult his party before a summit.
from sources in the foreign affairs ministry that Harare wrote to
SADC's Thomaz Salomão saying Mugabe needed more time to study
however, said the real reason Mugabe postponed the meeting is because
he now has a legally valid reason to hold an early poll and does
not want to be asked by SADC to make media and security reforms
before the elections.
The MDC's Tendai
Biti said: "We have told Salomão that we cannot afford
to have this meeting postponed. This is as a delaying tactic by
Zanu-PF, and we will not accept it."
leaders are still not in agreement after a Constitutional Court
ruling last week ordered elections be held by July 31. The opposition
is pressuring SADC leaders to take decisive steps to ensure Mugabe
and Zanu-PF hardliners do not stampede the country into elections
under current conditions because they would be disputed and have
potentially disastrous consequences for Zimbabwe.
The two Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) parties said the ruling by a bench packed
with Zanu-PF sympathisers was politically motivated and designed
to assist Zanu-PF's agenda for early elections without reforms.
he would comply with the judgment, but Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
MDC-T leader, rejected it, saying the judiciary was overstepping
its mandate and usurping powers of the executive as it has no power
to set election dates.
Ahead of the
summit, Zuma's facilitation team was in Harare this week for meetings
with political parties and their negotiators to iron out the problems.
But sources close to the meetings say there was little agreement
as each side dug in its heels.
in Gaborone said that the ruling on the election date would have
featured prominently during the SADC summit.
Mugabe and Zanu-PF
are resisting pressure to implement reforms in the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) that gave way to the unity government.
But the MDC
formations say these cannot be negotiated and are advocating for
media reforms and a code of conduct to govern the behaviour of security
services during elections.
They are also
calling for the registrar general to be subordinate to the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, which is mandated to oversee polls.
It is not only
Zimbabwe that is now under the spotlight, but also the mettle of
SADC leaders and the entire organisation, a senior SADC diplomat
based at the regional bloc's Gaborone headquarters said.
still going to be the most important SADC summit on Zimbabwe since
the GPA was signed in 2008 and the coalition
government formed in 2009," a SADC ambassador based in
will review the politics and security in the country, evaluating
what has been done and what still needs to done in a bid to assess
whether Zimbabwe is ready for free and fair elections," the
said recently, SADC was closely following all political and legal
developments in Zimbabwe, including the Constitutional Court case.
ruling will be discussed within the context of political and legal
processes under way in Zimbabwe. The judgment must be followed to
the extent that is it feasible to do so and this means people have
got to be rational and flexible in dealing with these issues."
Zulu, a member of Zuma's team, said her boss and SADC leaders want
free and fair elections in Zimbabwe "with or without the court
also created a rift in the judiciary. Though Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku and seven other judges supported it, Deputy Chief Justice
Luke Malaba criticised it, saying it "defeats logic" and
was "very dangerous".
the ruling, saying it sought to prevent the country from plunging
into a constitutional crisis if polls are further delayed.
court ruling has now forced Mugabe and his officials to abandon
demands for elections on June 29, Zanu-PF is still pushing for an
expedited process with little time to implement reforms and new
the smaller MDC, Welshman Ncube, who is also a constitutional lawyer,
said his party insists polls can only be held in line with the new
is clear. We are saying we must comply with our Constitution, and
our Constitution says there must be 30 days of voter registration.
You can't make a new Constitution over four years and start by violating
it," said Ncube.
Supreme Court says elections should be held by July 31, it is in
fact saying 'break provisions of the Constitution to fast-track
the polls', which is nonsensical."
was supposed to start on June 3 and end on July 2, but, because
of logistical problems, will only begin on June 10 and end on July
process goes smoothly, and Mugabe announces the election date thereafter,
the nomination court will sit on July 23, and then the mandatory
30 days for campaigning will follow.
mean actual voting will only take place in August. By that time
the country would be hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation
General Assembly, which Harare has indicated it will use to present
the country as a safe tourism destination.
Douglas Mwonzora says his party will only hold elections if all
reforms agreed upon by the parties are implemented.
He said media
reforms would result in all contesting parties having fair access
to state media during election campaigns.
Watch said in a report on Zimbabwe this week, titled The
Elephant in the Room, the country still needs reforms to ensure
state security forces "conduct themselves in a nonpartisan
and professional manner".
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