21 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Scoffs At Khama

Photo: IRIN
President Ian Khama of Botswana.

ZANU-PF has dismissed suggestions by Botswana President, Ian Khama that the country's next election would not be free and fair and could be marked by an outbreak of violence and intimidation perpetrated by the party's agent provocateurs.

In an interview with a South African newspaper last week, Khama said, "All I can say right now is that I hope there will be a credible election in Zimbabwe....The reason I say 'hope' is because all the people who were involved in the brutality and intimidation that took place back then are still there today. I have not seen any evidence that they have changed their attitude towards trying to ensure that ZANU-PF will emerge victorious."

"So I think that they are still capable of trying to engage in intimidation, deploying the security services to bring that about ...telling the people in the security services how they should vote. The potential for that is still there," he added.

Khama remains President Robert Mugabe's fiercest critic in the Southern African Development Community and shot to notoriety when in the first weeks of his presidency in April 2008, he condemned ZANU-PF for its bloody campaign against opposition supporters.

In turn, President Mugabe's lieutenants in ZANU-PF claimed that Khama was sponsoring and training Movement for Democratic Change members linked to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to topple the incumbent, heightening diplomatic tensions between the two neighbours.

Until now, ZANU-PF has been unable to substantiate its claims against the Khama administration of seeking a regime change agenda in Zimbabwe.

Rugare Gumbo, the ZANU-PF national spokesperson this week said: "It is his (Khama) opinion and he is entitled to it. Albeit, the situation on the ground reflects a much more different situation as the people of Zimbabwe are enlightened about what they want. We have seen this through the setting of the date for (a constitutional)referendum on March 16, an indication that the people of Zimbabwe are united and want a free and fair election".

He added: "The harmonised elections will be done in a peaceful manner, we have seen all the principals in the unity government persistently making calls for peace and that is a welcome development as we move to shun violence and intimidation".

Political commentator, Trevor Maisiri, said Khama's statements reflected the conventional way of looking at Zimbabwe during elections.

He said there was nothing on the ground that seems to indicate that all possible reforms would be complete before an election is held in June or July.

"His (Khama) take is very much based on observing the slow pace of reforms and the lack of political will on implementing reforms. However, unless there is urgency and political will in implementing the pre-requisite reforms before the supposed July election, there are likely to be loopholes in the electoral process," said Maisiri.

On Tuesday, police continued with their spate of raids against non-governmental organisations and stormed the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) offices in Belgravia, Harare.

The raid on ZESN has worried political observers who view police intimidation as a precursor of violence against non-governmental organisations ahead of the elections.

Police in recent weeks have also raided the Zimbabwe Peace Project and ZimRights offices on grounds of looking for undisclosed documents.

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