Principals agree to early elections

The announcement this week that the three principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) have agreed to hold elections as early as possible has ignited angry responses from ordinary Zimbabweans and activists, who say the environment is too violent and too polarized to hold credible elections.

Tsvangirai & Mugabe
Tsvangirai & Mugabe

Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara discussed elections during their meeting on Monday and agreed the inclusive government should come to an end because it is not working.

But a snap survey in the NewsDay newspaper on Wednesday revealed that most ordinary Zimbabweans were “frightened stiff” of holding elections under the current conditions. Many of them pointed to the issue of violence as the most crucial issue that needs to be dealt with.

Political commentator Bekhitemba Mhlanga told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that this week’s development adds more confusion to a situation that already has multiple processes at play. Mhlanga referred to the SADC facilitated negotiations that are still going on, the constitutional referendum due before elections, and crucial reforms that ZANU PF is resisting.

“SADC will have to make it clear that if they do not monitor the elections then all players must be prepared to accept that the outcome will not be laid at their door,” Mhlanga explained.

Piers Pigou, projects director for the International Crisis Group Southern Africa, said there is a real danger violence will be employed again by ZANU PF to force people to go and vote or to stop them doing so.

“I think there is an emerging consensus in many quarters that elections should be and can only be held in March, or June 2013. But much depends on what happens at the ZANU PF conference in December,” Pigou said.

The principals did not announce a date for elections, and it remains to be seen whether ZANU PF will finally give in to the demands stipulated in the GPA. – SW Radio Africa News

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