I read with disgust and disbelief recent comments to the effect that Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has defied the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) in its calls for reforms before elections, saying in part they were outdated.
Sunday View with Benjamin Takavarasha
For the record, Sadc has reiterated in all its recent summits that before elections are held in Zimbabwe, not only the new Constitution should be in place, there also must be full implementation of the rest of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which gave rise to the Government of National Unity.
The GPA stipulated from the outset that a great deal of work had to be done during the existence of the inclusive government to prepare Zimbabwe for free and fair elections, which Sadc would endorse.
This was reiterated at the Windhoek Summit of August 2010, where Sadc demanded that the inclusive government and the Zimbabwean political parties “find an uninterrupted path to free and fair elections and the removal of all impediments to the same”. At no time since then did they go back on that stance, significantly even after the peaceful referendum on the new Constitution.
Gumbo is quoted as saying that calls for reforms (by Sadc and other parties) before elections has been overtaken by the new Constitution which he claims would be the grounds for free and fair elections, apparently on its own.
But the fact of the matter is that the new Constitution was never meant by itself to supersede the reforms set up by Sadc as a precondition for elections.
Significantly, Zanu PF itself never said that to the electorate in its campaign together with other major parties in campaigning for a “yes vote” in the referendum. To only say so after the outcome of the referendum is disingenuous as it is tantamount to having misled the electorate.
The same electorate is surely bound to be suspicious as to whether they will be misled by Zanu PF in its election manifesto — again — come the elections.
it is also a painful truism that adoption of the new Constitution and its implementation are far and away from being one and the same thing. As a case in point, the horrendous violence meted out to the electorate in the 2008 Presidential runoff — that dark episode in our recent history — was itself contrary to the constitution as it was then.
Among the outstanding items to be achieved, at least according to opposition parties, are: Rule of Law, Freedom of Association and Assembly and Electoral Reform. On the specific issue of the rule of law as it pertains to election violence, Gumbo says his party was currently making efforts to ensure non-violent elections, implying that Zanu PF would be the sole arbiter and custodian of non-violent elections!
While the peaceful referendum was most welcome, it should not be used as a barometer of what would happen during the elections, given that all the major parties were of one accord in campaigning for a “Yes vote”.
So the only tangible indicator is the last election, the Presidential runoff of 2008, and that does not arguer too well given that the nation is still licking its wounds from that election.
Gumbo gives the excuse of sovereignty saying the regional group’s calls for reform before polls “undermines Zimbabwean sovereignty”. This is a contradiction given that Zanu PF was a signatory to the GPA in the first place. In doing so, is Gumbo implying Zanu PF was party to compromising our sovereignty at the time?
And much more than this, there is a deep sense of irony in that by general consensus, the GPA resurrected Robert Mugabe as the losing candidate in the March 2008 elections, and Zanu PF itself, who between them would otherwise be in the doldrums. Zanu PF must be grateful to Sadc and respect its recomendations.