THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC this week filed an urgent High Court application challenging the ban by police on its rallies and the refusal by the public media to accept its campaign material ahead of Friday’s presidential election run-off.
Tsvangirai squares up with President Robert Mugabe in the run-off, amid allegations by the opposition that Zanu PF was continuing to close the democratic space in the country ahead of the poll.
The latest application came in a week in which the MDC also approached the same court challenging postal voting by members of the uniformed forces in the presence of their superiors.
The public media, the Herald, Sunday Mail, Chronicle and the Sunday News, together with ZBC-TV and the four radio stations, have rejected MDC campaign material for publication or broadcast.
This, the MDC argued in its application, was a violation of the Sadc guidelines on democratic elections that entails that public media should cover all contesting parties equally.
MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, confirmed yesterday that the party had filed an application and described the campaign for the run-off as a “nightmare”.
“We have been denied access to the media and all the state media houses are refusing to accept our campaign material and we are saying that is unfair,” Chamisa told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday. “The campaign period has been terrible and it has been a nightmare. We have had our people killed and abducted and we have not been allowed to campaign freely, so we have applied to the courts so that our campaign adverts can be accepted.”
Chamisa spoke as African National Congress (ANC) president, Jacob Zuma, said in London on Wednesday that he did not believe that the run-off would be free and fair.
Zuma said the level of violence against the opposition was “too much” and would affect the outcome of the election.
Chamisa said the party was having problems coming up with election agents for the election as Zanu PF had embarked on a coordinated and systematic terror campaign against the agents the MDC used on March 29.
“Zanu PF supporters and the terror militias have been approaching our supporters and threatening them saying they will be inviting death if they stand as MDC polling agents and that is unethical,” Chamisa said.
He said Sadc observers deployed last week have since visited some of the victims of political violence.
Chamisa doubted that the presence of the observers would result in cases of violence going down, arguing that their role was just to observe and write reports. “Their presence will not stop the killings that are going on,” he added.
Chamisa said the forthcoming election was turning into a farce.
He said the MDC raised a number of concerns when its leadership met with United Nations assistant secretary-general for political affairs, Haile Menkerios, in Harare on Wednesday.
“The issues that the party raised included the ongoing violence being perpetrated by Zanu PF,” Chamisa said. “We discussed Mugabe’s threatening statements that he would go to war, issues of the military bases that these people have set up all over the country and problems of accessing the media were also discussed, among other issues.
By Loughty Dube