SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Vacation Timing Scorned

Robert Mugabe's decision to take a month long break abroad is being scorned by members of Zimbabwe's civil society groups, who say the country is being held in limbo because of a lack of government action.

Mugabe left Harare for Asia last week Thursday where he will spend between three and four weeks with his family. The annual holiday has angered many, because of the stalled nature of political progress stopping promised reforms.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) has raised concern that Mugabe's absence will slow down the pace of reforms expected before elections. Mugabe has insisted the new poll will be held this year, despite a deadlock over the new constitution and a critical absence of the necessary reforms.

"We urge the president to cut short his vacation and help resolve the crisis at home so that Zimbabwe can make democratic progress before the next elections," CZC said in a statement.

CZC spokesman Thabani Nyoni told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that, "Zimbabwe remains at a critical transitional juncture and we call upon its leaders to prioritise implementation of the necessary reforms."

"We felt that the country, especially government side, has lagged behind in terms of deliverables expected of them in terms of GPA timelines and expectations. We also felt that considering there is increase of electoral activity, there needs to be an adjustment of government activity. In other words we expected the president to either postpone his break or push forward deadlines," Nyoni said, adding that Mugabe appears to be "derailing the process."

"We feel the ZANU PF side of government is not taking the inclusive government seriously," he said.

He added that civil society groups expect that an election will be called this year, despite the lack of reforms needed for a free and fair poll.

"We are anticipating that this time around there won't be time to harmonise the constitution with current laws and that elections are likely to be held under conditions that are neither free, credible, nor fair," Nyoni said.

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