ZANU PF is directing state resources to neutralise the MDC in its quest to win a majority in the next election, a leading economic commentator has alleged.
Speaking at an Institute for Security Studies (ISS) seminar held in Pretoria last week, John Robertson said Zanu PF intended to silence the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and reverse the popularity the party had gained.
“(President) Robert Mugabe’s health appears to have made this a more urgent objective, the belief being that the security of Zanu PF officials depends on Mugabe being re-elected and then before standing down, nominating a successor who will look after their interests,” Robertson said. “As a sense of urgency has gripped the party in recent weeks because of the president’s health, many Zimbabweans are bracing themselves for this unknown event and for an electioneering onslaught that will follow as Zanu PF tries to stamp its authority on the entire population.”
Mugabe has repeatedly denied being in poor health.
Tsvangirai recently said he had agreed with Mugabe to hold elections next year under a new constitution.
Robertson, speaking at the seminar held under the theme “Whither Zimbabwe”, said the means by which Zanu PF was planning to neutralise and eliminate the opposition were discussed and debated in various circles.
“Some point to the deployment of police throughout the country, some to the recruitment drives for youth militia and some to the forced attendance at indoctrination meetings in rural villages,” he said. “All the images conjured up point to all too familiar recurrences of collectivised violence and intimidation, again accompanied by promises of much more punishment to follow if the community dares to oppose the party.”
Robertson added that there was an “unpalatable probability” that the next elections could be held under the existing constitution which would be a violation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which states that a new supreme law should be in place before another plebiscite.
“Zanu PF has already been accused of being in breach of this agreement (GPA) so often that another breach is thought unlikely to worry them,” he said. “However, anxiety that the international recognition of a Zanu PF election win might be withheld is said to be prompting the party to contrive an emergency of some kind in the hope that this incident might amount to an acceptable excuse.”
Robertson added that Zanu PF was deliberately undermining the MDC’s efforts to improve the country’s economy as a way of discrediting the former opposition party ahead of the next elections.
“Part of Zanu PF’s election plan appears to be based on the certainty of failures as proof of MDC’s incompetence and therefore, on claiming Zanu PF to be the voters’ only acceptable option,” he said.
This was done, Robertson added, to revive Zanu PF, which is likely to be routed in a free and fair election as shown by a recent opinion poll.
Zanu PF officials who tried to force communities to sing their tune during the constitutional outreach programmes were also shown resentment, Robertson added.
Speaking at the same seminar, former Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe Sten Rylander said Zimbabwe should not rush to have elections next year.
He said: “A lot of focus is on forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe — when and how? The general feeling among us external partners — to a very large extent also shared by Sadc and South Africa, I believe — is that there should be no rush for quick elections.
“It would be better and less dangerous to lay a good and solid foundation in the form of a new constitution and necessary electoral reforms — and then go for elections with international supervision. Hopefully Sadc through the South African facilitation team can help establish a roadmap for a good continued process leading up to credible and democratic elections late next year or in 2012.”
He lamented the country’s weak economy.
“The production is not even near what it used to be some 10-15 years ago. This job has to be done through a revitalised private sector and through investments,” Rylander said. “The international community can do something, but not cover up for this enormous loss of productive capacity.”
He said some “formidable” problems were standing in the way for a dynamic private sector recovery, among them, the uncertainty surrounding minerals and diamonds due to lack of transparency and accountability and the proceedings within the Kimberley Process; and the failure to carry out a land audit and promote growth in the agriculture sector, the mainstay of the economy. — Staff Writer.