SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Women's Coalition to Block Mugabe's 2011 Elections

Women in Zimbabwe have come out strongly against the idea of holding elections in 2011, saying that a full implementation of the Global Political Agreement is necessary, before any polls. Speaking under the auspices of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe, the women said they plan to block Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai from holding elections next year, if they do not make the key changes that they agreed to.

The coalition's National Coordinator, Netsai Mushonga, said they would approach local political parties, African ambassadors in Zimbabwe, SADC leaders and the GPA chief facilitator, Jacob Zuma, to present a roadmap for elections that the women want to be followed.

Mushonga is quoted as saying: "This document is an appeal to the regional blocs that women of Zimbabwe are not interested in the holding of elections now. Why rush to hold elections when the GPA is not yet fulfilled? We need to see reforms first before we talk of elections."

Mushonga stressed that the violence of the June 2008 elections is still fresh in the minds of Zimbabweans, particularly women who were badly victimized through gang rapes. She said elections without national healing would bring back these terrible memories.

At the ZANU PF conference that started on Friday, Robert Mugabe made it clear that he wants elections next year. But there is a consensus among civic groups and the MDC, that major reforms are necessary in order to hold elections that are free and fair.

The pressure for change is growing but Zimbabwean writer and journalist, Geoff Hill, said he does not think any of it will make a difference to Mugabe. Hill explained that the ZANU PF leader will call for elections whenever he wants and SADC and the AU will do nothing about it.

"As long as Mugabe has guns you cannot push him out. It was the same with apartheid in South Africa, until De Klerk sat down in good spirit, but there is no good spirit with Mugabe in Zimbabwe," said Hill.

The writer added that Mugabe would be happy to hold a one-man election if there is no opposition, as he did when Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the 2008 presidential runoff due to the extreme violence. Hill said the discovery of diamonds has given Mugabe and ZANU PF even more strength and they will use that wealth to hold on to power at all costs.

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