The officials said ruling party emissaries – Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche – had told SADC mediator Thabo Mbeki during the last round of talks that the MDC’s central demand for a new constitution before the polls, the postponement of elections from March to June and international management and supervision of the poll by the UN and Western observers was a European Union (EU) agenda, with the help of Britain, aimed at interfering with the ballot in favour of the opposition.
The Zimbabwean heard that MDC (Mutambara) secretary general Welshman Ncube stormed out of a meeting Tuesday after a deadlock caused by Zanu (PF)’s intransigence in acceding to MDC demands.
Zanu (PF) has also rejected MDC demands that the diaspora be allowed to vote, saying this would be unfair as the ruling party could not campaign there because of travel sanctions imposed by Western capitals on ruling party officials.
The MDC (Tsvangirai) has threatened to boycott the polls if management of the poll is not assigned to an international body such as the UN. The Zanu (PF) team alleges this demand has been foistered on the MDC by Britain and her EU allies, who are allegedly not keen to see a political settlement.
So, if that is the cause they (Britain) are pushing – of wanting to meddle in the elections using the talks – we are more than willing to proceed with preparations for our elections without the talks, a senior Politburo member told The Zimbabwean. Â
The official said the Zanu (PF) team had warned the MDC that Britain should not use the opposition as a proxy to interfere with Zimbabwe’s electoral process and internal politics.
British embassy spokesperson Gillian Dare was not immediately available for comment.
The MDC has made one major concession of voting with the ruling party in passing the Constitution Amendment No. 18 in Parliament, empowering Mugabe to handpick a successor and harmonizing the three-tier poll.
The MDC says there is not enough time to implement reforms and want the election postponed to June. But Zanu (PF) is rejecting this ostensibly because it thinks MDC is at its weakest point ever and could easily win the poll. Mugabe made this clear on Thursday when he officially opened his party’s extra-ordinary congress.
Mugabe said: We started announcing that there would be elections in March next year six months ago… If some parties are not ready, it’s their fault, we have given them enough time to prepare and there is another three months.
Zanu (PF)’s staunch refusal to reciprocate the MDC’s good will has resulted in mounting frustration in the democratic movement.
The MDC has demanded that Zanu (PF) at least conform to the Grand Baie protocol, a set of guidelines ratified by all SADC heads of State in 2004 governing the regional conduct of elections.
Another point of disagreement has been the dispatch of an international election observer team. Zanu (PF) is reportedly arguing that the SADC protocol only compels member states to allow a SADC election observer team ahead of, during and after the poll, which the party has assented to. It would, however, not countenance international management or supervision of the poll ostensibly because Zimbabwe was a sovereign State.
Zimbabwean and international human rights organisations this week said opposition party supporters continued to be attacked and sometimes killed by State security agents as politically-motivated violence, which started early this year, escalates.
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