THE three political parties in the inclusive government have clashed over when fresh elections should be held and what measures need to be in place in the run-up to credible, free and fair polls.
The two MDC formations want full implementation of the Global Political Agreement to precede polls, while Zanu PF maintains that this can only be done simultaneously with the removal of sanctions.
Political analysts believe that the three parties will continue to have divergent views and not agree to implement necessary fundamental reforms that will ensure that the elections are not disputed.
Zanu PF, the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC party, and Welshman Ncube’s smaller MDC faction have agreed on 24 GPA principles but have failed to implement most of them over the last two years.
The three parties agreed to implement a sanctions removal strategy, media reforms which include regularising the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, appointing a new ZBC board, constituting the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust, cessation of external radio broadcasts and security sector reforms.
They also agreed to review ministerial allocations, carry out a land audit, come up with land tenure systems, transport arrangements for principals, put an end to external interference, set up a national economic council, selection of national heroes, constitutional commissions, the role and position of presidential spokesperson George Charamba and amendments to electoral reforms.
But according to Zanu PF, only three things need to be implemented before fresh elections — the speedy completion of the constitution-making process, followed by a referendum and then the enactment of electoral reforms agreed upon by negotiators from the three political parties.
MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa said: “The GPA must be implemented to the full first before we can have elections in Zimbabwe. Non-fulfillment of the GPA undermines the roadmap to elections. The GPA is a prescription for a free and fair, and violence-free election.”
MDC-T has 21 minimum conditions for a free and fair election, which it has presented to Sadc mediator South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team.
These include drafting a new constitution, guaranteeing the security of people, an end to violence, the introduction of a biometric voters’ roll, a transparent and impartial delimitation process, full audit of electoral processes, Sadc monitors six months before and six months after the elections and security sector reforms and its realignment to prevent political abuse by the military, intelligence agencies and youth militia.
MDC-T also wants media freedoms, prevention of Zanu PF abuse of state resources, in particular diamonds in Chiadzwa, and an impartial and professional Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
MDC-N secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga concurred with Chamisa saying full implementation of the GPA was paramount to ensure a credible, free and fair election.
“The outstanding 23 GPA agreed points should be implemented first before any fresh elections,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
In response to the two MDC formations’ demands, Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said ideally, full implementation of the GPA was what everyone wanted, but it should not be done selectively.
Gumbo said: “It’s a good idea. It’s exactly what we want but it has to be done concurrently with the removal of sanctions. We can’t talk about full implementation ignoring sanctions. They can’t have isolated implementation.”
He reiterated President Robert Mugabe’s assertion that elections would be held with or without a new constitution later this year. Zanu PF has declared that it is prepared to revert to the old constitution minus Amendment No 19.
Amendment No 19 gave birth to the current inclusive government.
“MDC is just trying to delay elections, but they are not going to hold back the process — the constitution-making process followed by a referendum and then elections. Reforms have to be done by parliamentarians, it is their responsibility — but it’s not going to keep the process back. We are definitely having elections this year — the president reiterated this,” Gumbo said.
Political analysts concurred saying the MDCs’ call for full implementation of the GPA was a two-pronged strategy — as a delay process and also because they do not have a strategy to mobilise people to resist polls under unfavourable conditions.
Analysts told the Zimbabwe Independent that the MDC formations’ strategy to delay elections would not work because power in the inclusive government rests with Mugabe.
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Professor Lovemore Madhuku said: “They (MDC formations) know that they are not ready for elections. They know that they will reach 2013 even if elections are delayed without achieving anything. Their term is almost halfway (if we are to go by the five-year parliamentary term) without anything.
I don’t think they have the mind set or the will to ensure fundamental reforms.
Another political analyst, Charles Mangongera, said MDC-T was definitely not ready for elections, but currently had no plan B if Mugabe insisted on early polls.
“It’s a two-pronged strategy — one to delay the process,” he said. “I have no doubt that they are not ready for elections. Zanu PF has been preparing for elections for a long time and now they (MDC) are realising that time is up and anytime Mugabe can call for elections. They know that full implementation will not happen.
“The best Zanu PF will try to do are reforms that are limited to electoral reforms and not fundamental reforms like security reforms and media freedom that will create space where people are free to vote,” said Mangongera.
Madhuku said there was apparent confusion in MDC-T and the party was just making rhetorical pronouncements.
“They are not serious about reforms because the constitution-making process can never be democratic. What will happen in the end is that Zanu PF will push for an election and we will end up with an election with no conditions that allow for free and fair elections.
Mangongera added that the other reason for the call was because MDC-T has no strategy to mobilise people to resist elections.
“There are no strategists in MDC-T. They don’t know how to mobilise. The problem with MDC-T is that they keep on saying they don’t want elections but what is their plan B? Do they have sufficient skills to mobilise against elections? ”
He said MDC-T did not have sufficient power in the inclusive government to postpone elections that Mugabe wants.
Regional coordinator at Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Dewa Mavhinga, who is based in South Africa, agreed with Mangongera saying it was up to Zuma to demand minimum reforms before elections.
“Failure to implement any significant reforms over the last two years is a clear indicator that this inclusive government on its own has neither the capacity nor the necessary political will to implement critical reforms unless President Zuma and Sadc make clear demands for minimum reforms ahead of elections,” he said.