Doubts over 2012 elections due to slow pace of reform

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has expressed doubts over whether the country can hold free and fair general elections in 2012.

Tendai Biti
Tendai Biti

Biti told business leaders at a post budget seminar that the slow pace of democratic reforms, agreed to under the power-sharing deal, would make the prospect of a 2012 election far-fetched.

The MDC-T Secretary-General said elections were dependent on the fulfilment of the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Biti deliberately omitted allocating any funds for elections in his budget presentation last week.

In September the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had submitted a US$220 million budget to treasury for both the constitutional referendum and the general elections. US$104 was set aside for the referendum, with US$115 earmarked for the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Political commentator Dr Maxwell Shumba told SW Radio Africa that allocating funds for elections would have been irresponsible on Biti’s part.

‘If he had allocated funds for elections he would have shifted attention away from implementing fully the GPA to campaign mode, which the Zimbabwean society currently dreads,’ Shumba said.

Shumba added that the climate for fair, democratic and transparent elections does not exist in Zimbabwe, even though it is widely accepted the lifespan of the unity government has to come to an end.

‘With political will, I don’t think it will take a month to implement the agreed issues in the GPA. It is imperative for the coalition partners to create a conducive environment that allows for free and fair elections.

‘It is clear that anything less could have disastrous consequences for a country that is barely out of the woods and whose economy is coming from a zero performance,’ Shumba said.

Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party have repeatedly said the country will hold elections early next year, telling their supporters to start campaigning.

Already, ZANU PF is in campaign mode, as demonstrated by party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, who is travelling around the country seeking political support.

There are fears that lack of reforms will mean that once again Zimbabwe will have a violent election with absolutely no credibility. SW Radio Africa

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