Civic society calls for the demilitarisation of elections

soldiers2Local civic society groups have called for an urgent demilitarisation of the countrys electoral institutions and processes following the deployment of soldiers, police and Central Intelligence Organisation operatives in the countryside by Zanu PF ahead of anticipated elections.

State security institutions have in previous years been deployed in rural areas to intimidate and harass villagers before and during elections in order to prop up Zanu PF.

We call for the demilitarisation of the political and electoral processes before the holding of any elections. The security sector (military, police and the State intelligence) must refrain from engaging and interfering with the electoral processes, civic groups said in a statement released last week.

The statement was signed by eight civic society groupings.

After Zanu PF’s massive defeat in March 2008, it engaged State security apparatus and its militia to unleash an orgy of violence on the unarmed citizens leaving a trail of murder, pain, tears and displacements all over the country.

Over 500 MDC activists were murdered during this period.

After the violence, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) intervened and called for the formation of an inclusive government following the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

The inclusive government can only end after the holding of credible, free, fair and uncontested elections. Before holding the elections there should be a clear roadmap that is agreeable to SADC and the people of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is a fragile state; serious consideration must be given to the timing of the next elections. As it is, the countrys institutional and legal infrastructure as well as the psychology of the people is not ready for what will certainly be a critical and hotly contested election, the statement said.

The civic society that signed the statement include Zimbabwes biggest labour union, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), pro-democracy groups, womens rights groups and the students movement, called on the SADC to appoint a team that will ensure and monitor implementation of outstanding issues in the GPA and the democratic reforms envisaged under the political pact.

The MDC has over the past two years called for the realignment and reconstitution of the security sector to create an apolitical and security force that stands by the needs of the people not one that serves the interests of a singular party.

However, Zanu PF continues to drag its feet and is blocking security sector reforms.

The MDC has maintained that the GPA must be fully implemented; the people-driven Constitution-making process completed and the country has a clear roadmap in place, then free and fair elections can be held.

Zanu PF has in recent weeks stepped up its violence machinery by deploying soldiers and militias into the provinces to prop up its campaign for probable elections.

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