Beware election violence: warn true war vets

If an election roadmap is not adopted, Zimbabwe faces reliving the violence of the 2008 elections, a former liberation fighter's group has warned.

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform, which campaigns for peace and democracy, has urged the Government to remove “inconsequential” issues from the roadmap and has suggested 13 points which need to be addressed to ensure credible elections.

This includes the adoption of a transitional electoral authority to take charge of the elections and stamp out any practices which could interfere with the people's democratic right to vote.

Full audit

The former fighters also insisted on a full audit of the electoral roll and the right of the diaspora to cast their votes.

“No political party, much less a dysfunctional inclusive government without a mandate, has a right to disenfranchise more than 50 percent of the country’s eligible voters,” said the ZLP.

Zanu (PF) and both factions of the MDC have reached an impasse after rejecting the election roadmap agreed on by their negotiators.

MDC-T wants the existing Electoral Commission to be re-appointed with more neutral members and is also demanding reform of the security sector, focusing on the military, which is closely aligned with Zanu (PF) and has interfered with the electoral process in the past.

Zanu (PF) is demanding the elections are held this year.

The ZLP said: “Some of the issues that have found their way into the Election Road Map are purely inconsequential.

Radio stations

“These include the removal of sanctions, the adoption of a new constitution and the closure of foreign radio stations that beam to Zimbabwe such as VOA, SW Radio and Radio VoP.”

The group has said sanctions and the closure of the radio stations lie outside the scope of the Zimbabwean Government and SADC.

It argues there is no point in having a new constitution when the provisions of the existing one are not being observed and there is a need to draw a firm distinction between the Election Road Map and Security Sector Reform Road Map.

The ZLP has called for the creation of an independent and non-partisan transitional election authority to take charge of conducting the elections.

Rule of law

“The nucleus for this already exists in form of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC). JOMIC should be transformed into this Transitional Election Authority,” it said.

It suggests the SADC Troika Organ and the transitional election authority ensure the rule of law prevails in the country before an election date is set.

These authorities would then investigate reports of increasing political violence in urban and rural areas as well as claims the CIO is being deployed in the countryside by ZANU (PF) to spearhead their election campaign.

The group said local government and traditional leadership “hold totally partisan allegiance to ZANU (PF)” and need to be monitored to ensure free and fair elections.

It also said the Government must prioritise “liberalising” the public media ahead of the elections.

“The media plays a very pivotal role in any democracy in general and in particular during an election, by affording both the contestants equal access to market their views to the electorate,” the group said.

The Electoral Act, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services Act need to be scrapped or amended to ensure fair elections.

Additionally, benchmarks should be set for the institutional reform of all agencies involved in elections including the security forces, ZEC secretariat, registrar general and attorney general’s offices, the judiciary and the public service election management.

Legitimacy

A thorough audit of the voter’s roll that should include all Zimbabweans of voting age, including all those in the diaspora who have a stake in the country’s future, is mandatory according to the ZLP.

And the group is calling on SADC to assume full responsibility for the organisation and supervision of the elections with support from the United Nations and the African Union.

This, it says, will “underwrite the legitimacy of the election and ensure the acceptance of its outcome by all, and thereby obviate the bickering that would ensue should the inclusive government take responsibility”.

“We call on SADC to involve all stakeholders, including civil society, in drawing up a roadmap for credible elections. Zimbabwe is much more than the three signatory parties to the GPA and not all Zimbabweans are members of political parties,” it said.

SADC summit

South Africa is urging the parties to come up with an agreement before the SADC summit in Angola on August 16.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said he expects SADC to push for the country to adopt an election roadmap and said negotiations were ongoing.

"The negotiators are negotiating that and whilst that is being finalised the report is going to be tabled for SADC to adopt. We should by then [the summit] have an indication when elections are possible," he said in an interview with The Zimbabwean.

"Depending on the circumstances we’re not going to allow a situation where ZANU (PF) defines how election conditions should be. It has to be conditions that are acceptable to all parties," he added, warning that the country was not ready to hold elections until the second quarter of 2012, at the earliest.

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