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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Even football has rules: AU must tell Mugabe
    Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
    July 16, 2013

    Zanu-PF’s current election slogan is ‘Bhora mugedhi’. Literally translated this means let us kick the ball right into the nets. Such is the level of confidence within Zanu-PF that they will win the elections decisively. It is not surprising that football terminology is currently dominating the current campaigns. There is widespread usage of such terms as ‘bhora musango’ by those who are opposed to the president from within his party such as Baba Jukwa. This literally means, ‘let us deliberately miss the penalty by voting for the opposition'. It is interesting that football lingual has gripped a nation that is already obsessed with football thereby providing a dramatic relief in such a tense situation. However, on a serious note, President Mugabe should know that even football has rules and this is the message the AU should drive home to him when Zimbabwe falls for discussion on Friday 19 July in Ethiopia.

    So far the President has not played the game in a fair manner, often behaving like a competitor but also as a referee, tilting the playfield towards his side and often clutching onto the ball when the game is not going according to his plan. Examples of these include the legally unsound ruling by the Constitutional Court ordering the country’s harmonized elections to be held by 31 July 2013, a ruling which the court subsequently upheld in a latter hearing despite SADC’s concerns. Subsequently President Robert Mugabe fast-tracked changes to electoral laws on 13 June, using a presidential decree under the provisions of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act [PPTM Act], to by-pass parliament in a bid to comply with a constitutional court order to hold elections by July 31.

    The move did not only enraged progressive forces and the opposition in the unity government, but was illegitimate, illegal and unconstitutional. The PPTM Act itself says that it cannot be used to do by regulation what the Constitution says must be provided for “by, rather than in terms of, an Act of Parliament”. And the new Constitution requires just that: for instance, section 120 refers to elections “in the manner prescribed in the Electoral Law”, and the election of Senators having to be “in accordance with the Electoral Law”, i.e., the Act of Parliament regulating elections.]

    Further the proclamation is forcing Zimbabwe into having the first election under its new Constitution falling short of the principles outlined in section 155 of the new Constitution, such as that all eligible citizens are registered as voters, all political parties have equal access to the public media, etc. “The State” – not just the Executive – is enjoined by section 155 to ensure all these principles are honoured. ZEC must be given the opportunity to do its job thoroughly so that all people trust the outcome. The election timeframe should also take into account Zimbabwe’s obligations, as a member of SADC, to follow the SADC Guidelines for Elections.

    Despite ZEC’s efforts to register eligible voters thereafter, such measures were not adequate according to credible reports.

    Lately again, the special voting of the security forces has been dogged by other scandals and logistical nightmares. According to reports the nightmare cannot simply be dismissed on logistical grounds. It is deeper than that. These reliable sources have it that a faction in Zanu-PF is clearly trying to manipulate the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to block the special voting process for police officers and civil servants who are defying superior orders to vote for Zanu-PF.

    The signs that the President is trying to be both a competitor and referee in the same game can also be seen at how he has been intimidating SADC. The international community having delegated SADC to supervise the political process, is facing yet another frustration as the President recently threatened to show a red card to the referee.

    The President has once again stated that he will defy any AU decision to postpone the election. He was quoted as saying that if they try to postpone the election, ‘that will never happen with the absolute deceitful British who are supporting that,” The President continued, “You can do whatever you want. Your nonsensical talk about transition in Zimbabwe - there can never be any transition from the rule of our people to any other. There will be no change to the powers we gave to the people in 1980. There will never be that nonsensical transition. Keep it to yourself. Filthy aggressors, leave us alone,” Mugabe fumed. Again the President is playing the race card to shy away from his responsibility to comply with the rules of the game. Britain is and has never been part of the AU and does not prevail over AU decisions.

    In our view, this is not the time for the AU to play it safe just to avoid offending elderly states men but it is time for them to rebuke the elders to play fair in order to leave a legacy of fairness to the younger generations. The AU members should not pussyfoot or whisper in each other’s ear but must wield the whistle and show a red card to those who do not play according to the rules of fairness. This will demonstrate that its current discourse on African universal values is more than mere rhetoric.

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