ZIMBABWE is headed for a prolonged transition if elections are to be held within the next two months before the full implementation of necessary reforms, The Zimbabwe Transition Barometer has warned.
REPORT BY PATRICE MAKOVA
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (Cizc) barometer treks the progress of the inclusive government and provides researched analysis to give a better understanding of the transition.
The country scored lowly on almost all the six focus areas that have an impact on both the transitional process and the building and consolidation of democracy. These are rule of law, implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), clearly defined election dates and Sadc’s role. The barometer only gave high marks to the recent constitutional referendum.
The barometer’s researcher, Phillan Zamchiya said whereas there were positive democratic reforms attained in the country, Mugabe and his Zanu PF are still in a position to manipulate state institutions and electoral systems in order to retain power.
“In this context, the incumbent will find it difficult to gain political legitimacy due to the fact that Sadc, other political parties, civil society and the independent media keep trekking the transition to expose Zanu PF’s election manipulation strategies, subtle or overt,” he said.
Zamchiya said this would mean that if elections were to be held on or before June 30, Mugabe would need co-operation of protagonists (MDCs) post the general elections, which would further prolong the current transition.
Under a prolonged transition, Zamchiya said, the incumbent is faced with two options to gain legitimacy. The first is to form a government of national unity with the protagonists for an effective government. The second option would be for the incumbent to be bold enough to dump the opposition, and seek legitimacy through committing to advance the democratic gains that were made during the transition.
The barometer said Zimbabwe was likely to proceed to elections without an early election observation mechanism in place. The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) would continue to be restricted with sub-national issues of the violation of the GPA without having oversight over the conduct of political leaders.
“Sadc employees to Jomic may join the institution late and have minimal effect in addressing environmental deviations to election guidelines,” reads the barometer. “This will likely allow for political violence and intimidation to prevail, although not at the same levels as in 2008 but to a significant extent that will shape the election process and outcome.”
Zamchiya said the failure to rigorously monitor and push for the implementation of the electoral roadmap may lead to a sham election.
He said there was need to build institutions and ensure transparency and accountability by reducing chances of electoral fraud. It has been observed that one of the strategies being used by Zanu PF is maintaining the “infrastructure of error” to enable it to manipulate the electoral process.
“This infrastructure of error has manifested itself through concealed and selective voter registration exercise and the unfettered access of, and use of Zanu PF to state institutions.
Furthermore, the conflation of voter registration and inspection with the process of aligning laws with the new constitution, there is potential continuation of concealed and selective implementation of that process to the advantage of Zanu PF,” reads the barometer.
The researcher said while it was now reported that there is an agreement between the parties for the GPA on coming up with a time frame for the elections and proclaiming the date, there is a high possibility of Zanu PF dragging its feet on certain key reforms.
It says Zanu PF has persistently used this strategy to duck certain reforms that are inimical to its interests such as the reconstitution of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and security sector reforms.
executive could rule by decree after june 29
Zamchiya said the uncertainty over the election date and ambiguity on the status of Parliament after June 29 presented a scenario whereby the executive would form a government without legislative control, thus rule by decree.
He said the limited time frame and failure to resolve the tenure of Parliament post June 29 until the holding of elections could see some of the outstanding reforms failing to happen particularly around institutions directly or indirectly related to the electoral process.