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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Zimbabwe heading towards another disputed election
Rafopoulos, Solidarity Peace Trust
July 29, 2013
elections on 31 July approach, the Southern African Development
Community is under pressure to complete its mandate from 2007.
2008 the three major political parties in Zimbabwe entered an inclusive
government following a contested election in June that year. The
Global Political Agreement
(GPA), as it was called, was facilitated by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), and the facilitation was led by the
South African government.
five years under a very problematic and intensely contested inclusive
arrangement, the people of Zimbabwe face another election on the
31st July in a battle for the presidency, parliament and council
representatives. The setting of the election date was announced
unilaterally by President Mugabe, following a decision by the constitutional
court clearly directed by Mugabe's party.
This was contrary
to the terms of the GPA which set out that this decision would be
made by consensus of the three political parties, Zanu-PF, MDC-T
and the smaller MDC formation. Mugabe's failure to abide by the
terms of the GPA on this issue represented the latest in a long
list of infringements by his party on the terms of the agreement.
Many of the
key reforms envisaged under the GPA, such as media reform, substantive
changes in the electoral laws and security sector realignment were
blocked by Mugabe's party in the last five years. The latter issue
was particularly important given the fact that the security establishment
effectively blocked the MDCs from translating their electoral
victory into state power in 2008.
As a result,
the forthcoming election is taking place under conditions which
once again bode ill for the conduct of a free and fair plebiscite.
The combination of a shortened voter registration period and a voter's
roll which, according to recent reports contains serious irregularities,
point to further problems around the electoral process. The chaos
surrounding the recently conducted special vote for the security
forces provided yet another indication of the lack of readiness
of the national electoral body for the July election.
state of unreadiness for the election has also been a cause of continuous
concern for SADC. Since 2011 a series of SADC summits has pushed
the GPA partners to implement all the political reforms set out
in the GPA. At its June summit in Maputo the SADC facilitator on
Zimbabwe, South African President Zuma, once again stressed the
need for all matters agreed on under the GPA to be implemented speedily
in order to ensure adequate preparations for a level playing field
for the forthcoming elections.
Among the range
of issues raised by Zuma in his report was the key point that security
sector realignment could not be postponed any longer. The summit
also called on the Zimbabwe parties to seek an extension of the
election date from the Zimbabwe constitutional court, in order to
ensure greater readiness for the election. Once again Zanu-PF ensured
the constitutional court decision endorsed the 31 July election
date. In response to the recent disorganised special vote process,
SADC stated that it wished its advice had been heeded on the need
for a delay.
There have clearly
been tensions between Mugabe and his SADC colleagues over the problems
of implementing the GPA. Mugabe's recent attacks on one of the SADC
facilitators, Lindiwe Zulu, over her alleged criticisms of the electoral
process, point to some longer terms problems that Mugabe's party
have had with Zuma's arbitration.
the growing convergence between SADC and the EU since the beginning
of 2013 over the conditions for a free and fair election, have triggered
concerns in Zanu-PF. For much of the 2000's including the period
of the inclusive government, Mugabe has skillfully used the division
between SADC and the West over the sanctions imposed by the latter
in the early 2000's on the Mugabe regime, to maintain the support
of the region. The gradual movement away from the sanctions position
by the EU, from 2012, and the clear movement of the EU towards an
EU-Zimbabwe re-engagement dependent on the status of the upcoming
election have closed the ground between the EU and SADC.
is therefore on the regional body to carry out the mandate that
it set itself when the facilitation began in 2007. In that year
the SADC mediation set out to establish conditions for a generally
acceptable election in Zimbabwe and to “ensure that everybody
concerned accepts that the results of the elections as truly representative
of the will of the people.” The facilitator at that time,
the then South African President Thabo Mbeki, was keen to keep the
West at bay and to push for an African solution to an African problem.
That task remains to be completed in Zimbabwe, and the stakes in
the forthcoming elections are high not only for Zimbabweans, but
also for the credibility of SADC.
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