THE fact that President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party won several by-elections recently was part of the reason for the stalled talks between the ruling party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), according to South Afri
can deputy Foreign minister Sue van der Merwe.
And a survey released on Wednesday shows that while Zimbabweans were losing faith in democracy and becoming increasingly disillusioned with the opposition ahead of next year’s presidential election, they appeared to be more trusting of the government.
It was conducted by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, the Centre for Democratic Development in Ghana and Michigan State University in the United States.
South Africa still believed that a political settlement was the only solution to Zimbabwe’s problems, but the general election next year had shifted the focus away from potential talks, Van der Merwe said on Wednesday.
“Zanu PF has won several by-elections recently which, it is our belief, has been responsible in many ways for a stalling of the discussion,” Van der Merwe told the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday.
“We firmly believe that there is no alternative to the dialogue that must take place between the MDC and Zanu PF to resolve the problems in Zimbabwe,” she said in response to questions about the lack of progress toward a political solution.
Regarding the elections, Van der Merwe said the Zimbabwean government had participated in the recent Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit in Mauritius where guidelines for free and fair elections were adopted.
“Sadc adopted a set of guidelines and principles governing elections – Zimbabwe was party to those guidelines,” she said.
Mugabe’s government had also changed some electoral laws, Van der Merwe said.
Results from an extensive Afrobarometer survey conducted in Zimbabwe in May show that “Zimbabweans are keenly aware that their personal and national economic conditions have deteriorated in the past two years”. – IOL.