ZIMBABWE goes to polls in three weeks’ time with the scales tilting in favour of Zanu PF as no major reforms were enacted to level the playing field since the violent and disputed elections in 2008, analysts have said.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
The confirmation by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) last week that harmonised elections be held at the end of this month effectively ruled out the possibility of the reforms being implemented before the polls.
It said the polls should take place on July 31 in line with a proclamation by President Robert Mugabe.
The analysts also said reforms were no longer possible because Parliament was dissolved last month before it had enacted a raft of democratic reforms that could have ensured that elections are held in a free and fair environment.
The current environment, they noted, favours Zanu PF as it controls the electoral systems, State media and security forces that have propped Mugabe in past elections.
A Sadc summit held in Mozambique last month directed that amendments to the Electoral Act which had been made into law by Mugabe using the Presidential Powers (Temporal Measures) Act be brought to parliament for debate and adoption.
It also called for the appointment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee to deal with implementation of agreed issues on media reform, monitoring of hate speech in all media and that security forces publicly restate their commitment to the rule of law and adherence to the constitution.
There were supposed to be amendments to the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), the Broadcasting Act and section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act before the elections.
Most of the recommendations of the summit were never carried out.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the dismissal of applications by the Constitutional Court to postpone elections would disenfranchise a lot of people as the time for voter registration was limited.
He said the MDC-T wanted elections pushed further to ensure reforms were implemented before the elections.
“The main reason why the MDC was seeking an extension was to allow Zimbabweans to be allowed more time to register as voters as well as to make sure that reforms which would have a bearing on the freeness and fairness of the election were done,” said Mwonzora.
Zanu PF has already ruled out the possibility of reforms before elections.
Youth Agenda Trust (YAT), a local organisation that seeks to enhance the qualitative participation of youth in the political and socio-economic discourse of Zimbabwe, also expressed concern over biased coverage of political parties by the State media.
“We also note with dismay the unprofessional conduct of State media which has failed to reform and has continued on a warpath with other political parties that are not Zanu PF,” said YAT.
“We feel that until there is fair media coverage in the state media, there is no credible election that we can talk about.”
YAT said it was disappointed that Zanu PF continued to shield the security sector from undergoing democratic transformation.
It said service chiefs continue to undermine other principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) other than Mugabe.
Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga have said they will not allow anyone without liberation credentials to rule the country.
“We maintain that all individuals in the security sector remain answerable to civilian authority and anyone who acts contrary to the dictates of the people is not fit for public office,” said YAT. “We therefore feel that unless there is security sector realignment, there will be no free and fair elections to talk about.”
But Political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa believes that if campaigning is done in a free and fair environment, the reforms would not matter much.
“What reforms do they [MDCs] want in two weeks when they failed to implement them in the past three year?” said Hamauswa.
But another political analyst, Dumisani Nkomo said going for elections without enacting reforms was a slap in the face of Sadc, which has been pushing for the changes to ensure free and fair elections.
“It also undermines the credibility of the electoral process and the outcome,” said Nkomo.
Mugabe on Friday at the launch of his party’s manifesto attacked Sadc saying Zimbabwe would walk out of the regional grouping if “it decides to do stupid things”, a clear indication that the 89-year-old leader has very little respect for the organisation.
In 2003, Mugabe pulled the country out of the Commonwealth, protesting Zimbabwe’s suspension from the group after an election widely seen as flawed.
Nkomo said Zanu PF was pushing for early elections because it was banking on the support of the security services.
“So far, quite a number of soldiers and police officers have been asked to apply special votes which Zanu PF hopes to manipulate,” he said.