14 October 2012

Zimbabwe: MDCs Defy Mugabe's Elections Ultimatum

Photo: IRIN
President Robert Mugabe

THE two MDC formations have vowed to resist fresh attempts by President Robert Mugabe to call for early elections before the full implementation of agreed political and electoral reforms.

Mugabe told the Zanu PF Central Committee on Friday that elections would be held in March next year, whether the two MDCs liked it or not. He claimed that the environment was conducive for the holding of free and fair polls. But the two MDC formations yesterday said Mugabe would not succeed in calling unilateral elections.

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora said as long as the agreed electoral and other reforms have not been implemented, his party, with the support of Sadc, would stop Mugabe and Zanu PF from calling for early elections.

"Mugabe has always been wishing for an election where his Zanu PF is not contested, but unfortunately he can no longer make unilateral decisions," he said.

Mwonzora said if Zanu PF was serious about holding early elections, the party should expeditiously agree to the implementation of reforms, including the election roadmap and new constitution for the country.

"The position of the MDC is not so much about the date for elections," he said. "We insist on conditions that guarantee secrecy of vote and security of both the vote and voters. If key electoral reforms are implemented today, we are not afraid to hold free and fair polls next week."

Nhlanhla Dube, spokesperson for the MDC formation led by Professor Welshman Ncube, said his party would only agree to the holding of elections between June and October next year, in line with the life of the current Parliament of Zimbabwe.

"Mugabe does not understand what it means to level the playing field," he said.

"The Global Political Agreement is very clear on reforms that have to be made to level the playing field. Sadc at its last summit in Maputo also made it clear that these reforms have to be implemented before elections are held."

But Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, insisted that the two MDCs were powerless and could not stop Mugabe. "The only person who has the power to call elections according to the constitution and the GPA is the President (Mugabe)," he said.

"The two MDCs know it, but they are only making this noise because they are playing to the gallery."

Zanu PF Central Committee meeting agreed that the party's primary elections would be held soon after the delimitation exercise.

The party had previously agreed that the primaries would be held after the Copac's second All-Stakeholders Conference next week.

"It was agreed that there was no point in holding primary elections before the delimitation of constituencies as this is expected to change boundaries in several areas," said a senior Zanu PF official.

Another source said the Central Committee also agreed to hold training workshops for party delegates who would attend next week's All-Stakeholders Conference.

This was meant to ensure that they project the party's position.

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