Elections ‘‘sometime next year’’ as Zanu (PF) signals climbdown

Navi Pillay, the visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who met President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai during her tour, hinted on Friday that elections would not be held this year, but ‘sometime next year’’.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai

Patrick Chinamasa, long considered one of the Zanu (PF) hardliners and an intra-party negotiator in political talks, also signalled a climb down on the dates for the next elections.

Pillay said there was a growing call locally and internationally for major reforms before elections are held.

Briefing journalists in the capital, Pillay said: ‘‘Concern is …rising both inside and outside the country that, unless the parties (MDC-T, MDC-M and Zanu (PF) agree quickly on some key reforms and there is a distinct shift in attitude, the next election which is due sometime in the coming year could turn in to a repeat of the 2008 elections which resulted in rampant politically motivated human rights abuses’’.

She added: “On a more positive note, several people told me they believe that if the country can get through the next 18 months or so without another political and human rights disaster, then it could finally turn the corner towards renewed stability and prosperity’’.

President Robert Mugabe first insisted that general elections would be held in the second half of 2011.

When that failed, backed by militant lieutenants, he renewed his call this year, declaring that the elections would be held with or without a new constitution currently being crafted.

‘‘A lot needs to be done before elections can be held, by way of ensuring certain basic reforms’’ said Pillay. ‘‘If held this year, elections would be catastrophic for this country.’’

Chinamasa, when asked by journalists to respond to Pillay’s insistence on a delayed election, abandoned the hardline stance typical of him, instead saying setting election dates was an internal matter.

‘‘Elections are an internal matter. We will consider the elections after the constitution making process is completed. We hope that will be soon enough because we want to be clear on who is ruling the country,’’ Chinamasa said.

His party is in a three year old coalition government that was established after the violent and internationally disputed presidential poll rerun of 2008.

Chinamasa’s toned down stance comes ahead of an impending visit by South Africa President, Jacob Zuma and his facilitation team.

President Zuma is the Sadc appointed point person in unlocking the political logjam that has marked Zimbabwean politics for years.

Elton Mangoma, an MDC-T intraparty negotiator, could not be reached for comment but an official from the party said the Zuma team was likely to arrive in Harare on Monday.

‘‘In understand when Minister Mangoma was talking to the Zuma team, the lines were so bad their communication was broken several times, but I am informed the group is jetting in on Monday,’’ said the official.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *