The MDC is ready for the next elections that will deliver real change to the people of Zimbabwe, MDC Secretary General, Hon. Tendai Biti has said. He described this year's elections as watershed comparing them with those held in 1980 when Zimbabwe gained its independence.
However, he said the MDC will continue calling for major reforms before elections are held in order to ensure that there is no repeat of the kind of violence that took place in the country in 2008 when Zanu PF was defeated at the polls by the MDC.
The MDC's position as outlined in the Conditions for a Sustainable Election in Zimbabwe (CoSEZ) launched by the party last year is that there should be security of the vote, security of the voter, a guarantee for the security of the people's will, implementing the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in full and all other agreed positions including the implementation of regional and international standards on democratic elections.
"We are very clear on these four issues. We can have elections tomorrow but if there are no reforms it will be one step forward and 20 steps backwards and we will have a similar situation like we had in 2008," said Hon. Biti.
He said the new Constitution expected to sail through when the referendum is held, will speak on a number of issues that can affect the holding of free, fair and violence free elections in Zimbabwe.
"In the past it was difficult to register to vote as people were asked to get letters from the headmen or landlords but the new Act has liberalised that. The new Constitution further calls for the announcement of the election results within 48 hrs and the results will be posted outside the polling stations while all candidates will get soft copies of the results," said Hon. Biti.
He said the MDC is insisting on an electronic registration system.
Turning to the staffing at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Hon. Biti said the issue of opaque staffing at the electoral commission remained one of the outstanding issues.
"We are not victimising the ZEC staff but the new ZEC board should be allowed to recruit staff and grade them and retain employees they see as gems for the organisation," he said. The Secretary General said as a labour backed party, the MDC is not insisting that ZEC workers be dismissed but that there be transparency in everything taking place at ZEC.
He said the MDC was concerned by the increase of political intimidation, violence and arrests taking place across the country. "That is why we are saying that JOMIC (Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee) must be empowered at province, district and ward levels. This will help in mitigating violence," said Hon. Biti.
He said Zimbabwe needed AU, SADC and international observers during the referendum and the elections and that the coming elections should be held under the 2004 SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and that the MDC expected non-governmental organisations and the media to do their work without being harassed.
"The transfer of power in the next elections will be respected. We are tired of always being on the agenda of SADC and as the MDC we are JUICED UP for the elections.
Meanwhile, Hon. Biti said as the Finance Minister he had received instructions from the principals, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe to source funds from the international community for the coming elections as the government could not fund the process.
Hon. Biti said elections will most probably be held in July before the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Conference in August, though the dates will be announced by the principals.