The two MDCs yesterday dismissed Zanu PF’s declaration that it would not allow international observers to monitor this year’s make-or-break elections, setting a stage for a bruising political battle.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
Last week, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, a senior Zanu PF official, declared that Zimbabwe would not allow European Union and US observers to monitor electoral processes in the country as long as sanctions were still in place.
Jameson Timba, Minister of State in the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Office, said Zanu PF had no mandate to invite or accredit observers, as it was the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
“We don’t expect ZEC to take instructions from Zanu PF, a political party,” said Timba.
He said polls would be conducted according to Sadc principles and guidelines governing the conduct of democratic elections.
The guidelines provide for the participation of international observers in any Sadc country.
“The responsibility to invite and accredit observers is that of ZEC and not an individual political party,” said Timba. “It is only those who have skeletons in the cardboards who are afraid of the international observation of our elections.”
Timba, who is secretary for international relations in MDC-T, said cabinet never gave an instruction to bar international observers from monitoring elections in the country.
MDC secretary-general, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said it was not up to Zanu PF to decide who observed the elections.
“Zanu PF needs to disabuse themselves of the fact that they are not the only one in government. The decision will be made by all of us and that decision has not been made,” she said.
“Zanu PF should know that these elections are not run by them for them to win. they will have to define a new path.”
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said Zanu PF’s statements “all seem to be sending one message, that they had no intention of taking Zimbabwe off the regional and international agenda”.
Since 2002, when the EU imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his cronies in protest at human rights abuses and violations of democracy, the 89-year-old President has not allowed international observers from Europe and America to witness local elections.
Political analysts last week said the country could witness another violent election and a disputed outcome if Zanu PF insists on excluding international observers from monitoring this year’s plebiscite.
They said if Mugabe wanted to sanitise his image as a democrat, as he wants people to belief, he should allow unlimited international scrutiny.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) director McDonald Lewanika said banning international observers would cast doubt on the credibility of the elections, especially with the current increase in reports of politically-related violence.
“Elections are not a wedding, where you invite only your relatives and friends,” said Lewanika.
“We need international observers to witness the whole process and give a fair assessment and not people who tell you what you want to hear.”
Zanu pf unsettled: Hamauswa
University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Shakespeare Hamauswa said the fact that international observers were likely to be objective unsettled Zanu PF.
“But it raises questions about what Zanu PF is up to,” he said.
“International observers give credibility to the elections.”
Threats to ban international observers comes at a time state security agents have embarked on an onslaught on individuals and civic organisations that are deemed critical of Zanu PF and Mugabe.