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  • 2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles

  • Zimbabwe must follow new laws for free elections
    Agence France-Presse (AFP)
    February 18, 2008

    Pretoria - Zimbabwe's elections next month will be free and fair as long as new laws on security and the media are fully implemented, South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said on Monday. Speaking at a joint press conference with her visiting New Zealand counterpart Winston Peters, Dlamini Zuma said it was vital that legislation which was agreed on between the Zimbabwean opposition and ruling party in talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki is put into practice. "If the Zimbabweans implement everything that have agreed upon during their negotiations on matters that had kept them apart -- if they implement the laws passed by parliament around security, information, media and all those laws ... the prospects for free and fair elections should be good," she said. "The important thing is all those things should be implemented now in the run-up to elections and during the elections."

    Following the talks led by Mbeki, Zimbabwean lawmakers passed a new Public Order and Security Act which should allow for opposition rallies to take place except where police have reason to believe they could result in unrest. They also passed a new media law relaxing requirements for independent broadcasters and newspapers to operate and compelling the media to give equal coverage to all political parties.

    However the opposition has accused President Robert Mugabe's government of failing to follow the new laws in the build-up to a March 29 general election after the authorities tried to ban one of its rallies last month. And despite the new media law, the only daily newspapers and radio or television stations to currently operate are all state-run. Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has rejected Mbeki's claims the mediation talks have been a success and urged the South African leader to show some "courage" in his dealings with his neighbour Mugabe.

    Peters, whose government has imposed a series of sanctions against Mugabe after he allegedly rigged his 2002 re-election, said New Zealand would only have "positive thoughts for Zimbabwe" if the elections were fully democratic. Unless an election is free and fair it is not an election. It is a jack up. It is a construction... It is organised deceit," he told reporters.

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