July 31, the deadline set by the Constitutional Court for the holding of the harmonised election, is just 51 days away, yet there is little on the ground to suggest minimum conditions are in place to allow Zimbabwe to hold undisputable polls.
The Standard Editorial
There is a lot that needs to be done in the shortest possible time. The security sector needs to be reformed to ensure that service chiefs adhere only to their constitutional mandates and are restricted from dabbling in politics.
No credible election can take place when the voters’ roll is riddled with inaccuracies and ghost voters. It is therefore imperative that the roll is cleaned up before the polling takes place. A comprehensive registration exercise that embraces those who were yesterday deemed “aliens” should also be undertaken.
Repressive pieces of legislation also need to be amended. Among these are the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), the Broadcasting Services Act, Criminal Law and Codification Reform Act, which all contain sections that are inconsistent with the constitution. These sections have in the past been used to restrict democratic space.
The Electoral Act, which should govern the conduct of the election, needs an overhaul as it has to provide parameters on how the new proportional representation system is going to work in Zimbabwe. All these laws need urgent amendments, so that they could form the required democratic legal framework that would make it possible for Zimbabwe to hold credible elections.
Sadc, the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement that formed the basis for the inclusive government, needs to act fast to ensure these changes are implemented. There is little time left and the regional body, which postponed its Maputo meeting on Zimbabwe at the request of President Robert Mugabe, has to urgently convene a summit that should consider these and other matters crucial for the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections.
Any dilly-dallying by Sadc leaders in solving these matters can only work in favour of those who are keen to subvert the will of the people in the harmonised elections.