The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Parties Differ On Elections

SOUTH African President Jacob Zu-ma's facilitation team yesterday met Zanu-PF and MDC-T officials who presented conflicting reports on the political situation here.

Zanu-PF said it was ready for polls slated for next year and told President Zuma's team that the prevailing situation was conducive to holdgeneral elections.

But MDC-T said the playing field was not even.

Zanu-PF negotiator Cde Patrick Chinamasa said the facilitation team wan-ted to know about the general political situation here.

"We told them that it is peaceful and conducive for elections. They also wanted an update on the Constitution-making process and what is there in place for the Second All Stakeholders' Conference."

Cde Chinamasa said they also briefed the team on Jomic activities.

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai led his team when they met the facilitation team.

Party spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said: "We submitted that conditions in the country were not yet conducive for free and fair elections.

"We are concerned with the violence being perpetrated by members of the security forces and that really poses a threat to the institution of free and fair elections."

However, Cde Chinamasa dismissed the allegations.

"The other parties are always negative because they do not want elections," Cde Chinamasa said.

"They want to use every platform to find excuses to avoid elections and whatever they say should be seen in that view."

Cde Chinamasa said MDC-T was trying to please its "masters and will find all sorts of lies to create a completely different picture from what is on the ground".

Mr Mwonzora said they briefed President Zuma's team on the latest developments regarding the Constitution-making process.

"The team was basically on a fact-finding mission," he said.

"We told them that the Constitution-making process was now on track, but we emphasised the need for adequate security at the Second All Stakeholders' Conference because it is an important milestone in the Constitution-making process."

Mr Mwonzora said MDC-T told the facilitation team of the need to come up with a mechanism to implement some of the issues agreed to by political parties in the inclusive Government.

"They assured us of President Zuma's continued support to a peaceful electoral process in Zimbabwe," he said.

The facilitation team comprised President Zuma's spokesperson Mr Mac Maharaj, his international advisor Ms Lindiwe Zulu and South Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Vusi Mavimbela.

On Monday, the team met MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube and one of his negotiators Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

Indications are that the country will go to polls early next year.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo said in an interview after the party's Politburo meeting that a mobilisation committee would soon meet to come up with election strategies.

"We discussed a report from the political commissar Cde Webster Shamu on the need to mobilise people to be ready for the referendum as well as the harmonised elections, which are coming," he said.

"We talked at length about that. What we established is that we are ready for the elections, but there is need to fine tune our campaign so that it becomes very effective.

"We are very clear as to where we stand in preparation for the elections."

Cde Gumbo said there was need to conduct primary elections and to put party structures in order.

He said the party was supposed to come up with an election manifesto and programmes that would win majority support.

Cde Gumbo said the Politburo expected the provincial leadership to co-ordinate party activities at district and ward levels since district co-ordinating committees were disbanded.

He said the DCC structures had gone for good.

DCCs were dissolved mid this year after the party noted that the structure had caused unnecessary divisions and was used as a tool by some senior party members to impose candidates. The Politburo also discussed the forthcoming draft constitution's Second All Stakeholders' Conference scheduled for October 21-23.

"We have agreed on the way forward as enunciated by Cde Patrick Chinamasa that the purpose of the conference is to receive various documents, starting with the Copac document, the national statistical report and various other documents," Cde Gumbo said.

He said there would be a plenary session chaired by Professor Hope Sadza and Professor Phineas Makhurane to consider stakeholders' input.

After the plenary, Cde Gumbo said Copac would then summarise the people's contributions and submit the document to the GPA principals.

He said Zanu-PF would stand by its recommendations for amendments to the draft constitution.

This would be done by comparing the national statistical report with the draft.

Cde Gumbo said a people-driven constitution could only be guaranteed by using the quantitative methodology rather than the qualitative one.

He said the Politburo further discussed the need to ensure that 99-year leases were bankable and usable as collateral for easy access to loans by farmers.

Cde Gumbo dismissed as "nonsense" claims that the revolutionary party was going to retire the old guard.

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