SADC must get serious

SADC leaders may have derailed plans by Zanu (PF) to have elections this year with or without a new constitution - but much more needs to be done. SADC must abandon its minimalist approach and take decisive steps to ensure the urgent implementation of reforms to level the political field and pave the way for non-violent, free and fair elections as soon as possible.

In March 2011 the SADC Troika Organ on Defence, Politics and Security Cooperation made it clear that elections in Zimbabwe could only take place following credible reforms. More than a year later, last week’s Luanda Communique did not reveal anything new.

SADC has laid out clearly the pre-conditions necessary to ensure democratic elections – but has done little to ensure that Zimbabwe’s political leaders implement these reforms. Given Zanu (PF)’s resistance, there is a real risk that the next 12 months will see a continued stalemate. This may benefit President Mugabe – but would be disastrous for the nation.

An issue of prime importance for SADC is the monitoring of the Global Political Agreement implementation. Such monitoring would best be achieved through the deployment of SADC appointed monitors from the Troika countries. SADC leaders must shift their focus to ensuring that they have a presence on the ground in Zimbabwe to monitor all aspects of the implementation of the GPA on a day-to-day basis.

The following five critical pre-conditions must be addressed:

1. A new constitution which includes critical electoral reforms such as an updated and accurate voters’ roll, guarantees for media freedoms, promotes gender equality and equal access by all political parties to state media while repealing or amending all legislation that hinders free political activity.

2. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its Secretariat Staff, charged with elections management, must be completely demilitarized, independent, professional, adequately resourced and have direct technical support from the SADC Electoral Commissions Forum to enable it to impartially discharge its mandate.

3. SADC must independently examine and certify that the environment is conducive to holding free and fair elections and then supervise those elections to ensure full compliance with SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic 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.

4. Together with the AU and the UN, deploy peace-keeping monitors at least three months ahead of elections 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. – Dewa Mavhinga, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

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