Civil society says democratic transition in Zim has ‘stalled’

Zimbabwe’s civil society organisations have said the democratic transition in the country has ‘stalled’, and is in danger of being reversed by Robert Mugabe’s call for elections in the absence of credible reforms.

Dewa Mavhinga, the regional coordinator for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said any plans to have elections without reforms should be totally rejected.

Civil society organisations were Ethiopia in the last week to put pressure on the African Union (AU), to push the inclusive government to ensure that the next elections are held in a conducive political environment.

Continental leaders met in Addis Abba for the AU’s annual summit of leaders, which ended on Monday. Mugabe attended the summit and was reportedly lobbying other leaders to let him call for elections this year, with or without a new constitution.

The Crisis Coalition’s Mavhinga told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that his organisation has flatly rejected that call and has also been lobbying SADC and the AU to independently examine and certify that the environment is conducive to holding non-violent, free and fair elections.

“The elections must be robustly monitored and observed by local, regional and international groups who should have unfettered access to all parts of the country,” Mavhinga said.

Mavhinga emphasised that with the help of SADC and the United Nations, the AU should deploy peace-keeping monitors to Zimbabwe at least three months ahead of elections.

“This move is intended to prevent state-sponsored violence and intimidation and to guarantee peaceful transfer of power to the eventual winner of the elections. The peace-keeping monitors should remain on the ground a further three months after elections have been held,” he said.

He continued: “This is the reason why we were lobbying the AU fathers in Ethiopia. During the several meetings we held, we told them Zimbabwe is not yet ready for polls, citing the stalemate in the coalition government and a host of outstanding issues, such as a lack of electoral and media reforms.”

“As civil society organisations operating in Zimbabwe, we reiterate that Zimbabwe has not yet instituted sufficient reforms to guarantee democratic, non-violent, free and fair elections and should not go to elections unless such reforms have been implemented,” Mavhinga also said.

He added: “The infrastructure responsible for widespread electoral violence remains intact and active and the leadership of army and the security forces remain extremely politicised and blatantly partisan towards ZANU PF.” – SW Radio Africa News

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